BUTTE — More police will be on the beat at the weekend’s Montana Folk Festival in Uptown Butte as authorities expect the event to draw people from the Rainbow Family gathering.
Sheriff Ed Lester said he doesn’t anticipate any major problems from the Rainbow Family members, but the close timing of the gathering and folk festival could draw a larger crowd.
Police have addressed complaints of minor theft and disturbances over the past few weeks allegedly involving people participating in the Rainbow Family gathering.
The gathering attracted about 10,000 people at its height July 4 at an encampment on national forest land near Jackson. Though the gathering officially ended Sunday, some Rainbow members have said they would likely attend the folk festival in Butte.
The Rainbow Family describes itself as a nonviolent, loosely organized group that embraces alternative lifestyles and world peace.
Capt. George Skuletich said those associated with the Rainbow Family haven’t caused too many problems locally. Most issues involved complaints of loitering or aggressive panhandling.
During the folk festival, which runs Friday through Sunday, police will work overlapping shifts so more officers will be on patrol during peak hours of the event.
On Saturday, six officers will be on foot patrol throughout the festival area. Four officers will patrol the Original Mine Yard stage, the main venue, and the Park Street stage, which are expected to draw the largest crowds.