Spain has the Running of the Bulls, and Bayfield has the Running of the Sheep. Around 2,000 sheep to be exact.
It’s been a tradition in Bayfield for 22 years, since the townspeople and the Lasater family decided back in 2000, when the Lasaters were once again bringing their sheep from high country back home into the valley, that the annual event should be a cause for celebration.
On Saturday, the day began at 9:30 a.m. as usual, with a sea of sheep hustling down Buck Highway (County Road 521), their wranglers in tow, and crowds watching with smiles and readied cellphone cameras from the side of the road. Often, vehicles driving down the highway were nearly swallowed whole in a flood of white fleece, but no one honked their horns or tried to run over the livestock. The fun of the yearly event was intoxicating for all in the area, even those stuck in sheep gridlock.
The participants eventually made their way over to Joe Stephenson Park for a day of free horseback rides and hayrides, petting zoos, rodeo events, goose wrangling and vendors selling everything from kettle corn to frozen treats to clothing. Smokey Bear even took pictures with children and told them how they can prevent forest fires.
Carole McWilliams has been volunteering for Bayfield Heritage Days since its inception and has loved everything about it.
“We turned the sheep coming back into the valley into an event, and I love that,” she said. “It’s so much fun to watch them come through town. This whole day is such a fun community event.”
Besides the day’s activities, McWilliams was looking forward to what happens when the sun goes down.
“This evening, we’re going to be setting off fireworks. They were the fireworks we bought for the Fourth of July but weren’t allowed to set off because of the fire ban this summer,” she said. “So, we get to set them off tonight, and let me tell you, it’s going to be something. We might be a small town, but we know how to do a great firework show.”