On Saturday, Oct. 29, Cedar City’s Main Street was filled with cowboy hats, tractors, hay bales and sheep to celebrate the annual Sheep Parade. Although the early cold front had made its way through town, spectators reported that the turnout was better than they had ever seen.
Those involved in the parade take weeks to prepare for the event. Days prior to the parade, you may come across covered wagons being driven down the street or floats being set up on the side of the road. Many people anxiously await this important town staple.
This annual event celebrates the Cedar Livestock Association, which was founded in 1924. The association’s deep roots in sheep herding are evident in Cedar City’s tunnel systems that run the length of Main Street. Sheep would be herded from the mountain, through the tunnels and into the basement of what is now known as Bulloch Drug to be sheared. Supervisor Alycyn Blackner explained the importance of the Sheep Parade to the community.
“It is an important tradition because it is a part of the harvest festival that’s been taking place in Cedar for over 100 years,” Blackner said. “It used to be a simple transfer that wasn’t really recognized, but today, it has grown into an event of celebration and a time to recognize the importance of livestock and the farmers that provide them.”
This event gives the community an opportunity to gather together. Children are mesmerized by the hundreds of sheep that run down the streets. Candy is thrown from tractors of all shapes, colors and sizes. Vintage automobiles honk their horns at the waving audience. Other displays include floats, swing dancers and community sports teams.
Vehicles are driven by seniors and youth. Young tractor drivers take on the torch passed from older generations of Cedar City sheep herders.
People from all over the West come to see Cedar City’s autumn festival, drawn to the small-town charm of the celebrations.
One of the most important aspects of community involvement during the celebration is local companies’ wooden sheep they display in front of their storefronts. Shops are able to decorate them in whatever way they choose. The wooden sheep are decorated with yarn, thick ribbon, shimmery paint, wool and other creative materials. One local company even made a small lamb for their large wooden sheep.
This year’s Sheep Parade was a celebration to honor decades of agriculture in Cedar City. It will continue to help citizens remember who really puts coats on their backs and food on their table.
Story by: Brooklyn Rushton
Photos by: Bria Hansen