ST. GEORGE – The Sheep Parade is the highlight event of the Cedar Livestock & Heritage Festival and probably one of the most unique parades in the country. On Saturday at 10 a.m., approximately 1,000 head of sheep will be herded from Cedar Mountain pastures down Cedar City’s Main Street, providing spectators an exciting glimpse of the Old West and its livestock heritage.
The flock of sheep belong to the Nelson Family whose roots as a family sheep ranch go back to the founding of Cedar City itself. Bengt Nelson Sr. was sent to the Cedar Valley by Brigham Young as a brick mason. Most families in the area had a small flock and when cash was short, payment for Bengt’s labor came in the form of sheep. His son, Bengt Nelson Jr. became a rancher and ran the sheep with the community flocks common at that time.
Roice Nelson took over in turn and expanded both the land holdings and size of the flock. At his untimely death, the ranch and sheep were divided between his four sons, Howard, Garth (Bud), Edward (Ted), and Richard. Sheep have continued to be a part of the family and still provide a tangible link to the past.
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Today, more than 150 years later, there are family members of four generations involved every day in carrying on the ranching tradition started so long ago. Bud Nelson and Ted Nelson’s families all work together on the combined operation during grazing seasons and as separate operations during the spring lambing and fall breeding. Family members who don’t live in the valley return home regularly to help work the flock, especially to help in bring in the sheep down from the mountain to valley, which has long been a tradition of the Nelson Family.
Along with the Nelson sheep, horses, wagons, antique tractors, bag pipe bands, youth groups, stock dogs, and historic and modern sheep camps also will take part in the procession. The Tatra Mountain Cultural Foundation is a new addition to this year’s parade. Tatra is an ensemble that performs traditional agro-pastoral folklore dances as found in the high Tatra mountains of southern Poland.
The parade will run from 200 South to 400 North (near Bradshaw Chevy). For everyone’s safety, please leave your dogs at home and keep children to the edge of the street as the sheep pass by. Do not get in front of the sheep! After the parade the tractors and sheep camps will also be on display the remainder of the day at the Cross Hollows Events Center.
The Ninth Annual Cedar Livestock & Heritage Festival
The Ninth Annual Cedar Livestock & Heritage Festival celebrates Cedar City’s unique livestock and agricultural heritage Oct. 24-26. The 2014 event features cowboy music and poetry, dutch oven cooking contest, draft horse pull, antique tractor pull, stock dog demo, sheep camp display, quilt show, vintage auto display, ranch rodeo, Friday Night Jam featuring Brenn Hill and Trinity Seely, and of course the famous Sheep Parade!
- Cedar Livestock Heritage Festival – website | Telephone 435-586-8132
- Parade information and entries – Contact Donna Christiansen | Telephone 435-559-2251.
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- 1,000 sheep strut their stuff on the streets of Cedar City; STGnews videocast – 2013