Crowds “Flock” to Cedar City in Celebration of Western Livestock and Heritage Festival

livestock festival

Crowds flocked Cedar City’s Main Street and the Cross Hollow Arenas in celebration of Iron County’s deep agricultural roots during the annual Livestock and Heritage Festival taking place Oct. 23-24.

livestock festivalSpectators lined Main Street Saturday morning in what volunteers estimated to be a record turnout for the festival’s renowned sheep parade. The event featured a display of wagons, tractors, horseback riders, and of course, sheep on their way from Cedar Mountain to winter pastures in the valley.

After the wooly wonders completed their journey, crowds made their way to the Cross Hollow Arenas to enjoy vendor booths, food trucks, live music, quilting showcases and vintage car and tractor displays.

Entertainment also featured competitions including a children’s pedal tractor pull, draft horse pull, vintage tractor pull and the annual Dennis Stowell Ranch Rodeo.

Saturday’s festivities were preceded by events on Friday. The opening activities consisted of an arena stock dog demo, antique tractor and machinery show, junior ranch rodeo, draft horse teamster livestock festivaldemo, quilting showcases, food trucks and vendor booths.

This year’s festival marks the 15th anniversary of the event. Each year a grand marshal is selected to be honored for their connection and contribution to agriculture, and Murie Bulloch McKnight Livestock received the recognition this year.

MBM Livestock is a family cattle operation founded by the children of Mel and Ila Murie who began ranching cattle in the area in 1956. Since this time, their children have expanded the operation throughout Iron County and continue to make improvements to the land.

Planning for the 2020 event included changes made amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Alterations to the festival included canceling the dutch oven contest, cowboy poetry, lead contest and cowboy church activities.

livestock festivalOther changes included an increase in hand washing stations placed throughout the venue, fewer vendor booths that were more spread out and signage asking patrons to wear masks and social distance.

The festival is coordinated every year by community volunteers and put on with the help of sponsorship by local businesses. 

Southern Utah University agriculture students got in on the action by assisting with the parade in the morning, coordinating the children’s pedal tractor pull and getting up close and personal with the draft horses by adding shingles to the sled as the daft horse pull competition progressed.


Story by Mikyla Bagley

Photos Courtesy of Nanette Roundy Spencer and Mikyla Bagley