ROUTT COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – As of Sunday, about 9,100 people were in attendance at the Rainbow Family Gathering in Routt National Forest, according to officials.
People set up camps in the forest surrounding a large meadow where they gather.
“We gather for world peace on July Fourth,” Scott Shuker, who has attended the event for 32 years, said.
“People will be gathering out there at the main meadow, that’s the main meadow, gathering in silence around the peace pole and doing whatever medication or prayers that they choose,” Shuker said.
People in attendance said they stand for peace and want to leave the forest better than they found it, but according to law enforcement, there have already been some problems.
As of Sunday, 451 law enforcement actions, ranging from inoperable equipment to narcotics, have been given out.
“This year law enforcement officers are finding large amounts of illegal drugs coming into or at the gathering,” the Public Information Officer for the National Rainbow Gathering Incident team Hilary Marki explained. “We’ve found a large amount of fentanyl, we’ve also found LSD, heroin, methamphetamines, psychedelic mushrooms, cocaine [and] marijuana just to name a few.”
The event is not authorized, and local residents had expressed their fears about the crowds, the impacts on the land, and illegal activity.
An incident management team of about 60 law enforcement and forestry officials has been working to protect the health and safety of the people at the gathering as well as those in the surrounding areas.
Markin said that she expects the crowd size to diminish quickly after the holiday.
When the event is over law enforcement and the Forest Service will work with the group to make sure the event area gets cleaned and that rehabilitation efforts are initiated.
It will take time to determine if there is any long-term impact.