MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Thousands of people are continuing to arrive in the Vermont town of Mount Tabor for the annual Rainbow Gathering of Living Light festival being held in the Green Mountain National Forest.
The U.S. Forest Service, which has brought in an incident management team to help manage the event and issues a daily update, says about 1,000 people have arrived so far with 10,000 or more expected for the peak of the event, held on July 4.
The Forest Service’s Nadine Pollock, who is part of the incident management team and is working her third Rainbow Gathering, said there has been a series of minor violations of the law and conflicts between people attending the event and locals. Among them are panhandling, traffic- and drug-related offenses and natural resource damage.
An organizer for the gathering did not respond to a request for comment.
The Rainbow Family describes itself as a loose knit group of people without leadership or organization. The gatherings have been held every year since 1972 at different National Forest locations across the country. It’s known as a temporary community that gathers to practice peace, love and respect.
Pollock said some of the people at the gatherings have attended every Rainbow gathering since 1972.
Many people come well-provisioned with food and water while others are not so well-prepared.
“There’s a pretty sizeable cross section of society that comes to these events,” said Pollock. “And when you have that cross section of society, you have all the challenges and successes that come with it.”
Cindy Kapusta, of the Mount Tabor Country Store near the entrance to the gathering site from U.S. Route 7, said they have been busy, but there have been some incidents, including people have been upset when told they didn’t have any public restroom facilities and a few relieved themselves behind the store.
“I think we’re prepared. I really don’t know,” Kapusta said. “I do have some anxiety about how this is going to play out. We’re here, we have no choice other than to deal with it.”