Rainbows over Wyoming

  Counter-culture types will be dropping out somewhere in Wyoming this July when the 22nd Rainbow Gathering convenes. From 10,000 to 25,000 people are expected to come from across the country to one of Wyoming's five national forests. Rolling Stone magazine reports that last year's gathering drew about 10,000 people to a national forest in Alabama. Things were calm except for 16 arrests, most for public drunkenness or women going topless. Two years ago, the group met near Paonia, Colo., home of High Country News, and the 15,000 participants almost doubled the county's population (HCN, 8/10/92). Town merchants reported some shoplifting and public urination, but more locals were arrested than Rainbows and many residents resented the heavy hand of state police. Some Pinedale, Wyo., residents oppose a gathering on the nearby Bridger-Teton National Forest. But the Pinedale Roundup has reminded townspeople that the "60s hippies and younger followers are also consumers. The paper recently printed a list of articles the Rainbows commonly buy. Dennis Neill, the Forest Service's liaison to the Rainbows for the last two gatherings, also assured townspeople that the group has a reputation for cleaning up public land after a gathering ends. "It will be different," he said. "It will be an adventure, but it's certainly not Armageddon."