Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rainbow Gathering in Heber, Utah

UINTA NATIONAL FOREST, Utah (AP) — About 4,000 members of a counterculture group known as the Rainbow Family have poured into the woods about 60 miles east of Salt Lake City for an annual festival that culminates in a four-day celebration beginning Tuesday.

Members began arriving about two weeks ago; flooding neighboring Heber City, where residents question how much the gathering will cost their town. They say they're wary of visitors rummaging through their trash or urinating in public. Police there have doubled their force with help from state agencies.

The Rainbow Family has no official creed or website, and doesn't publicly identify any leaders or list of members. It revolves around peace and nonviolence, various unofficial websites say.

A roving courtroom returns to the site on Tuesday to handle misdemeanor citations handed to participants. Last week, Federal Judge Dustin Pead presided in a trailer, KSL-TV reported, processing such misdemeanors as drug possession and having a dog off a leash on national forest land. Another judge is expected to go through about 50 more such cases this week.

Authorities say a New Hampshire woman and a man from Texas at the celebration apparently died in their sleep. Police also say a New Mexico woman at the campsite last week stabbed a participant, seriously injuring him.

But most people at the campsite have been peaceful and have complied with rules restricting where they may set up camp and draw water, officials from the U.S. Forest Service and the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office told The Associated Press last week.

About 10,000 people are expected to arrive by Friday, the height of the celebration.

Last year, the same number of members set up camp in Montana.

The group there racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in law enforcement costs, officials said. The festival prompted U.S. Forest Service officials there to draw up a list of lessons learned for other states.

The last time the Rainbow Family set up in Utah was 2003, when members camped in Summit County. The group has convened every year since 1972.

One of the pressures that drove human organization beyond that of tribes and clans was the need to move clean water in and waste water out. A tribe might plateau at 120 people on a favorable site beside a fertile river.  That same river naturally carried away waste and brought in fresh water.  Very favorable location ===> maximum 120 people in high density.

The Rainbow Gathering engages in terminal "cuteness" as they carefully maintain their disorganization as a way shirking accountability.  The following quotes are from various LEO who have policed Rainbow Gatherings and dealt with the aftermath.

Last year’s gathering in southwestern Montana cost the federal agency about $575,000 in law enforcement and administrative expenses. According to Kathy Jo Pollock, public information officer with Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, this year’s gathering is expected to run the same, in the range of $500,000.  Link

Was part of a team that "Dropped In" on and Earth First "Campsite" up in the Spray Lakes Recreation area above Canmore Alberta, once......same area where "Death Hunt" was filmed...You really had to watch where you stepped, the site was SURROUNDED by a solid ring of feces. -Crossfireoops at 24hourcampfire

Since they don't have any organization, it's hard for the FL to require a permit or to take action against anyone for cleanup. It's more like 10k individuals camping out and they just happen to camp near or on top of each other. There's no central organization to take care of things. -Rock Chuck at 24hourcampfire

They are VERY well aware of the rules that would make them fall into an event requiring a Special Use Permit. The very second they charge admission, or sell anything at the event, they could be all kicked off in a less than a heartbeat.  (they are) very adept at skirting the rules.-Rockinbar at 24hourcampfire

My take is that they will hit a tipping point where poor sanitation will cause epidemics similar to what happened in Haiti after the earthquake. Cholera, hepatitis, typhoid.....third world diseases thrive in first world countries when we fail at waste disposal.  It will not matter if you showed up in a $300K motorhome.  Viruses and bacteria don't care what your W-2 reads.

Thank God that Eaton Rapids has too many mosquitoes to be hospitable to these "free" spirits.  It is "free" only as long as they can get others to pay for the costs they incur.


  1. I thought I recognized that bunch. They came South in 19954, and camped about eight miles from where I lived at the town. Junior and a bunch of anthropologists went out to visit, and gawk, and marvel at them. He wrote it up at his blues site ( The problem they found in camping in Kisatchie, our local national forest, is that Forest Service rules allow you to maintain a campsite for only 14 days. After that, you've got to leave. Our sheriff helped the Forest Service with a detail of deputies that watched them full time, 24/7. After about a week of continuous police presence, the ragged bunch gathered their tatters and decamped, never to return.

    Oh, the skeeters are pretty bad along Kisatchie Creek.

  2. Quote from Junior's article "... wore shorts, jeans, or loose-fitting dresses, and had on sandals, new-looking hiking boots, or no shoes."

    I bet those were well fed mosquitoes by the end of those 14 days.

    Thanks for the link.