Moffat County students attend 12th annual Craig Sheep Wagon Days |

Moffat County students attend 12th annual Craig Sheep Wagon Days

Ben McCanna
Hannah Longwell, 17, left, and Lorrae Moon spin wool into yarn during the 12th annual Craig Sheep Wagon Days on Thursday at the Wyman Museum. The exhibit is designed to educate children about the important role sheep have played throughout Northwest Colorado's history.Shawn McHugh

Second-grader Jack Doane tasted butter he churned with his own two hands Thursday.

"I love it," he said with a smile.

Doane and his classmates from Sunset Elementary School were on a field trip to the 12th annual Craig Sheep Wagon Days at the Wyman Museum

Today and Thursday, elementary school students throughout Moffat County School District have been learning firsthand about Northwest Colorado's sheep industry — an industry that's on the decline.

"Sheep Wagon Days is all about teaching kids the basics," said Art Unsworth, a host and facilitator for the four-day event. "Many of these kids are third-generation (Coloradans), but they're two generations removed from the sheep industry."

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The event at Wyman Museum seeks to introduce students to that forgotten heritage, Unsworth said.

While at the event, students visited six information stations. Interpreters at the stations demonstrated branding, shearing, yarn spinning and looming, sheep wagons, and butter churning, and discussed the predators that increasingly threaten the industry.

Butter churning was second-grader Brendan Beaver's favorite activity Thursday.

Brendan's mother, Amber Beaver, was at the event as a volunteer. A mother of two, she said Thursday's trip was her second time to Sheep Wagon Days.

"I think it's great," Amber said. "(The students) have been learning about it in school, but coming here to see it in person is even better."

Cheryl Arnett, a second-grade teacher at Sunset Elementary, agreed.

"We've been learning about herders," Arnett said. "We read a book about the history of sheep wagons, and we learned about the process of turning sheep's wool into yarn and fabric."

Dovetailing classroom learning with a hands-on experience at Wyman Museum is "a great opportunity," Arnett said.

Even better, Arnett said, is the subject's inherent resonance for local students.

"Kids learn a lot about other places, but it's good to learn about what goes on around here," Arnett said. "That way when a kid is going down the road and sees a sheep wagon, there's some significance to that."

Unsworth said the students will also see evidence of the sheep industry in less obvious places.

"(The students) will start to understand that when they walk through a store, the products they see were produced somewhere in agriculture," he said.

If you go

What: 12th annual Craig Sheep Wagon Days

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

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

Cost: Free

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