12th annual Sheep Wagon Days kicks off today in Craig

If you go

What: 12th annual Craig Sheep Wagon Days

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Wyman Museum, 94350 E. U.S. Hwy. 40

Cost: Free

If ever there were a reason to adopt a sheep’s state of mind, the next few days would be an ideal time to follow the flock.

The 12th annual Craig Sheep Wagon Days begins today on the grounds of the Wyman Museum.

Running through the weekend, the agri-tourism event includes numerous educational demonstrations about the heritage of sheep ranching in the area and the craftsmanship of yesteryear.

Blacksmiths, saddle-makers and leather workers will be on hand to show attendees what life was like when regional ranchers created their own tools and equipment in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Exhibitions about weaving, butter-making, sheep-shearing and branding also give the experience of life on the ranch for local students and visitors.

Sheep Wagon Days, hosted by Villard Ranch, began in 1999 as a way to combine lessons about the roots of sheep ranching with the atmosphere of a festival-like event.

“Learning about this stuff reinforces the heritage of sheep ranching,” said Melody Villard, owner and operator of Villard Ranch. “We have tactile, hands-on activities so that kids can take home what they learned to their parents.”

The event also includes a petting zoo for children, which, for the first year in the event’s history, will feature Shetland sheep.

“They’re smaller, kid-sized sheep,” Villard said.

The first two days of the event begin with the educational aspects of ranching, but on Saturday, the event expands to more of a party, with features such as an antique tractor display, tractor pulls and a hay maze through which members of the crowd can navigate.

Entertainment relating to shepherd culture will take the spotlight Saturday with sheep trailing, in which the Villards will lead attendees on a sheep drive along U.S. Highway 40.

In the same vein, bagpiper Dave Glad will provide music throughout the day, while children can compete in the mutton-busting competition, which is similar to bull-riding, but with sheep.

Saturday’s activities will also include meals like the early morning pancake breakfast, and a lamb and Greek festival later in the day.

Villard said the weekend will be a little shorter than in previous years, with activities ending early Sunday afternoon for the family to load up their livestock.

“People can watch or help if they want to,” she said. “That’s the first time we’ve ever done that, loading up in the middle of the day.”

Villard said she expects the event to retain the same size crowd as last year with 900 people, though the Sheep Wagon Days has seen attendance ranging from 500 to 1,500.

“It’s usually a pretty big hit,” she said. “The people who come get a chance to learn a little something they didn’t already know.”

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