Rainbow Family gathers to decide Montana meeting place
RACETRACK, Mont. - At least 60 people are currently camped out at the Racetrack Campground, 20 miles south of Deer Lodge off of Highway 273 South.
A gathering can bring several thousand people to the decided area each year.
NBC Montana spoke to local law enforcement and group members Tuesday to learn about how each are preparing.
The Rainbow Family spring council is deciding where in Montana they will have their annual gathering.
Nathan Akre, a Rainbow Family member, explained, "We're pretty much a community that comes together like a small village and leaves with no trace."
Every year, the loose-knit group who call themselves the Rainbow Family gather in hundreds, often thousands, for a grand-scale peace-promoting camping trip.
We found the decision of where the gathering will take place can be made more difficult because the group lacks organized leadership.
And that isn't the only issue. Family member Jerome Flynn said that although it is generally a harmonious event, "there's an abrasive energy that comes with a massive amount of people showing up and basically starting a city out of nowhere."
That can spill over from the gathering into local communities.
Akre explained that a large group coming into a new town can also be a positive thing. "It might seem like a strain on one side, but on the other side it can be a lot of commerce," he said.
We wanted to know how local law enforcement are preparing for the influx of people.
Powell County Sheriff Scott Howard said, "whenever they have the main gathering it will tax the resources that we have."
He said he is working closely with the Forest Service and has officers working on a taskforce to make sure they are all prepared for the gathering.
The council is still trying to decide where the gathering will meet.
We know it will take place somewhere in Montana from July 1 through 7. The main event is a prayer circle for peace on the 4th of July.
To find out more about the Rainbow Family, visit www.welcomehome.org.