Rockpile to host Sheepherder Festival next week

Shepherd dog guarding and leading the sheep flock (Denisa V/ Shutterstock)

GILLETTE, Wyo.—The Campbell County Rockpile Museum announced that it will host the inaugural Powder River Basin Sheepherders Festival in early May, a celebration of the historic and modern culture of working sheep in northeast Wyoming.

The festival will focus on both the modern and historic culture of working ship from the Scots and Basque in the Powder River Basin who immigrated to the area at the turn of the 20th Century to the Quechua Sheepherders who left their mountain homes in South America to work sheep in Wyoming, per the Rockpile Announcement.

The free event is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Friday, May 6, and will end on Saturday, May 7, during which the Rockpile invites residents to join them, day or night, with the festival running for 32 hours.

Throughout the experience, residents will get a glimpse into the life of a sheepherder and will have a chance to immerse themselves in a 32-hour Sheep Camp experience highlighted with cultural presentations from the Big Horn Basque Club, speaker David Romtvedt, and Sheep Dog Trial demonstrations with Michelle Miller, per the announcement.

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Romtvedt, professor emeritus for the Creative Writing Program at the University of Wyoming and author, will present each day at 10 a.m. and at 3 p.m., the announcement states. His programs will feature some traditional and contemporary Basque storytelling and poetry.

He will also play music on the Trikitixa, or Basque accordion, according to the Rockpile.

Michelle Miller will demonstrate with her working sheepdogs to illustrate the important work of her animals and the companionship that the dogs provide to sheepherders.