Butte area sees influx of Rainbow Family travelers


BUTTE, Mont. - The Butte-Silver Bow police department told NBC Montana they are seeing increased incidents of panhandling, which they believe is because of the increase in Rainbow Family travelers.

We checked around Butte on Tuesday and only found one person at the corner of Dewey and Harrison.

But police say they are also hearing reports near Walmart, area convenience stores, and near the intersection of I-90 and I-15.

That is the place many travelers will turn off to head to Jackson, the location of this year's gathering.

"We're pretty sure we'll see a pretty good influx of travelers coming through," said Butte-Silver Bow Undersheriff George Skuletich. "Also, with the Folk Festival coming through after the festival gets over, we're planning on seeing an influx of the Rainbow Family coming to the Butte area to enjoy the music."

Skuletich told us the police are paying close attention to the increase of people.

He explained, "with people traveling and hitch-hiking through the community, or trying to get money by panhandling, it does bring extra concerns to our officers and to the public."

We also talked to Beaverhead County commissioners about how much the gathering might cost the county.

The 2000 gathering cost the county an estimated $100,000.

The commissioners said this time around they are taking a "wait and see" approach and weighing the need for expensive services, like having a 24-hour ambulance at the site.

The Rainbow Family members will gather in Montana's Bighole Valley, south of Jackson, and west of Dillon.

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