DILLON, Mont. - The spring council chose a campground outside of Jackson, Montana to host their annual event. It is the exact same site the gathering was held thirteen year ago, when more than 20,000 people showed up.
Jackson is west of Dillon, on State Highway 278.
NBC Montana has been closely following the Rainbow Gathering since organizers announced it would be in Montana. We drove to Dillon on Monday to hear from folks who remember the last one.
Members of the Rainbow Family told us they consider themselves a city that comes together and leaves with no trace. But locals from Dillon said that isn't exactly what they remember.
"There was so much garbage up there," said Susie Brown, the director of the Humane Society of Beaverhead County. "I've never seen that much garbage ever."
When the Rainbow Family came through in 2000, she said they left lots of stuff behind, including their pets.
"We talked to lots of people who promised us that there would not be one animal left behind... that they would make sure all the dogs were gone," Brown said.
Brown told us after they left, she ended up rescuing 56 animals from the campsite.
She said, "We're not set up for 56 additional animals ever, so it wasn't a good thing."
We spoke to a number of folks off-camera who said they weren't happy. They were frustrated by members of the family who came into the town and freeloaded or stole from locals.
Others did not remember them causing too much trouble.
"My understanding is they're kind of a peaceful group. They like to party," said owner of the Dillon bookstore Debbie Sporich.
She also remembered the last gathering. She explained her business was not negatively affected by the 2000 gathering, but said anytime that many people move in, it impacts the whole town.
"All your service people, ambulances, search and rescue, there's probably an impact on them that would certainly affect us as taxpayers," Sporich said.
To learn more about the Rainbow Family gathering, visit www.welcomehome.org