After a one-year hiatus, Bayfield’s annual fall festival, termed Bayfield Heritage Days and Sheep Trailing, returned to eastern La Plata County.
After taking the year off in 2020, organizers weren’t sure how many people to expect for the event, but an estimated crowd of more than 2,000 people came to see sheep on the move to their winter grounds on Saturday.
“It was perfect,” said Phyllis Rhodes, who helps organize the festival parade on behalf of the Bayfield Lions Club.
Heritage Days has been an annual tradition in Bayfield on the last weekend of September since 2000.
Part of the herd of ewes and lambs belonging to the family of J. Paul Brown started Saturday’s event as onlookers lined the Buck Highway to see the annual trailing.
Event organizers are proud to offer an authentic ranching experience to visitors as Brown’s sheep move from the high country above Lemon Reservoir to the family ranch near Ignacio.
After the trailing, the parade on Mill Street honored retired teachers from the Bayfield and Ignacio school districts.
Bob Siever, a descendant of Bayfield pioneer families, rode in a carriage in the parade along with members of the Pine River Valley Heritage Society.
“There are a lot of people here!” a beaming Siever said while surveying the crowd.
This was the first time Siever’s daughter, Paige, had joined him in visiting Bayfield, and she said she enjoyed the beautiful autumn weather and friendly people.
After the parade, people milled around Joe Stephenson Park to visit vendors and watch displays of spinning yarn and blacksmithing. Children had the opportunity to see yaks and pet goats.
A video of the sheep trailing can be seen on the town of Bayfield’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/watch?v=1481463048893116.
Pine River Shares hosted a picnic at the end of the event, featuring free hamburgers and hot dogs. On Saturday night, the town of Bayfield was set to shoot fireworks postponed from the Fourth of July because of this summer’s drought and fire danger.
Numerous local groups organize the event, including Pine River Centennial Rotary, Pine River Shares, the Pine River Valley Heritage Society, Pine River Library and sponsoring businesses.