You know it's fall when Idaho breaks out the wool at the Trailing of the Sheep Festival.

At the first sign of leaves turning, many of us are consumed by palpable nostalgia. And there’s a simple reason for this: Fall is a season steeped in tradition. Apple-picking, pie-baking, chopping wood—these things we do when autumn arrives are remnants of rituals and a time when man busied himself preparing for winter. Today, towns across the country recall and celebrate these traditions with fall festivals. One of the most unique? The Trailing of the Sheep Festival in Ketchum, Idaho.

This five-day festival from Oct. 10–14 celebrates Idaho’s rich history and culture of sheep ranching dating back to the early 20th century. The festival is chock-full of events, from sheep dog trials and wool-knitting classes to lamb-cooking demos and tastings, but the highlight is the parade of 1,500 sheep migrating off the mountains to their winter pastures via Ketchum’s Main Street. Stand by and watch the tradition unfold, then join in to help drive the sheep through town. And while you’re in the area, head over to neighboring Sun Valley and take advantage of the fall activities at the iconic ski resort. What better way to prepare for winter than by scouting ski lines?

By The Numbers

  • 2.65 million: Sheep population of Idaho in 1918
  • 1,500: Sheep in the festival parade
  • 1997: First year of the festival

Other October Events at North American Ski Areas

Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest; Big Bear Lake, Calif.

Oktoberfests are a dime a dozen, but few are as authentic as this one, which serves up beer, food and entertainment you’d find in Munich. Doors are open every weekend in September and October. Ongoing throughout September and October.

New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival; Laconia, N.H.

Nothing says fall more than pumpkins, and no place does pumpkins quite like Laconia. Must-see: the festival’s 34-foot Jack-o-Lantern tower. October 12-13, 2018.

Banff Centre Mountain Film + Book Festival; Banff, Alb.

Never mind the shorter days. Veg out and live vicariously through films and stories of mind-blowing expeditions captured by adventurers from around the world. Oct. 24-Nov. 4, 2018.

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Ski Town Gold

Until beer brewing becomes an Olympic sport, gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival are as good as it gets for ski town breweries.