Rainbows will select site today

Members to meet in Idaho, choose spot for annual gathering

Spokesman Review/June 10, 2001

Members of the counterculture Rainbow Family will meet today in a meadow in Idaho's Boise National Forest to decide where to hold their annual gathering.

If past years are any guide, that suggests they won't hold it in the Inland Northwest, because the group's spring council is often near the eventual site of the gathering. But that's far from certain.

One local Rainbow named Foxfire said Saturday that the chance the gathering will be in the Boise National Forest lies "somewhere between not necessarily and probably not."

Information lines and a Web site for the group on Saturday listed Cache Creek Meadow, near Stanley, Idaho, as the site for today's spring council. Officials in the Inland Northwest have been preparing for the possibility of a Rainbow gathering on national forest land north of Spokane, one of areas being scouted by the group.

Forest Service, police, housing and food bank officials in the Inland Northwest have been holding community meetings in preparation for a possible Rainbow gathering. Some officials have expressed concerns about the environmental impact of a gathering, as well as high demand on social services and law enforcement. Others say past gatherings have been a boon to area businesses.

The gathering is held each year on Forest Service land in the first week of July. Travelers often arrive early and linger afterward. Foxfire did not make this year's spring council but went to 1999's Spring Council in the Allegheny National Forest in western Pennsylvania. The gathering that year was held in the same area.

The gatherings started in 1972 and have taken place for a week coinciding with Independence Day each year since. This year's gathering is planned for the week of July 1 through 7.

As the years have gone by, the number of people attending the event has grown. Last year more than 20,000 people attended the gathering in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest near Dillon, Mont. Members of the group call one another "brothers and sisters" and consider themselves a family. They are a diverse group of professionals, ramblers, aging hippies and free spirits.

The Rainbows claim to have no hierarchy or leaders and all decisions are made by consensus.

Earlier this spring, Rainbow scouts were checking out potential gathering sites north of Spokane. Every year the Rainbows send scouts to national forests to find the gathering spot. This year the scouts were looking at sites in the Colville, Panhandle, Okanogan and Boise national forests.

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