If you’ve ever travelled through Radium, B.C., you’ve likely seen them.
Maybe they’re wandering around town, rearing up on their powerful hind legs and nibbling berries off trees.
Perhaps they’re crossing the highway and causing a traffic jam, only you don’t mind because when it comes to iconic Canadian creatures, they rank among the coolest.
Or maybe you’ve observed them nestled high in the banks of the Columbia Valley — the golden-eyed lords that they are — as they peer down at their Rocky Mountain kingdom.
We all agree big horned sheep are extraordinary to behold. But beyond this, how much do we genuinely know about them?
Enter Radium, B.C.’s playfully-named Headbanger Festival, an annual event where, according to one visiting journalist, “big horns replace big hair.”
Aside from opportunities to observe the fall rut — with male sheep engaging in loud, dramatic head butting behaviour to establish dominance in a herd — the event offers an exciting weekend chock-a-block full of workshops, lectures and activities celebrating these prehistoric-looking superstars.
“When people first hear about us, they definitely think we’re holding some kind of rock concert,” says Headbanger Festival spokesman Kent Kebe with a laugh. “But really, it’s an opportunity to learn about the sheep who co-exist with us in our community. Why are they here? What’s threatening them? How can we ensure they survive?”
This year’s festival includes art sessions, interpretive hikes, lectures, a smartphone workshop courtesy accomplished Canadian photographer Dax Justin, and a Saturday night dinner event with keynote speaker Dave Butler — the author behind a mystery novel centred around national parks and poaching called Full Curl.
“I’ll be talking about the role of fiction writing in conservation,” says Butler. “Think The Lorax meets The Monkey Wrench Gang.”
This unique event has piqued our interest over here at Toque & Canoe — not only for the exciting ritual of the fall rut and a rich festival line-up, but also for rumours we’ve been hearing about a legendary local sheep known as “Ralph the One Horn” who once roamed the region.
Care to know more? We sure do.
— T&C Staff
Note from publisher: This post was powered by Tourism Radium Hot Springs Association. Registration for the Headbanger Festival, which runs Nov 2-4, closes October 26. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone at 1(888) 347-9331.