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Rainbow Family Gathering Comes To A Climax

While people all across South Dakota were celebrating on the fourth of July things were quiet in the Rainbow Family campground. At its peak 1,700 gathered in the Black Hills. Saturday several hundred remained silent from sunrise until noon for their annual prayer event.

Rainbow Family members were silent as they slowly filed into the Main Meadow and awaited the prayer session. At noon they gathered in a circle and joined hands to meditate. After fifteen minutes of meditation, the crowd began to cheer and music started to play. Then people gathered in the center of the circle to celebrate. Some Rainbow Family members have joined in these traditions for years. Martin Cronk has been attending the gatherings since 1992. He describes the day’s events as a sort of spiritual awakening.
“There’s magic in the air when this many people come together to pray for peace. We’ve been praying for peace since we woke up this morning. That’s five, six hours for some of us. Totally silent, praying for peace in our hearts,” says Cronk.

Many have traveled for years for this event. Andy Barkan traveled from Wyoming to be in the Black Hills. “I’ve been doing this for 12 years and I’ll be doing this the rest of my life,” Barken says, adding the annual celebration is a fresh start for him.

“I do this every year because it renews me. I work in a kitchen called the instant soup kitchen and the whole purpose is I’m giving up myself. It helps me get out of myself. I’m kind of a bit of an ego guy back at home and it helps me break my ego down when I can be of service to my family. And that’s what I do this for. I can strip everything away, this is my new year. My year starts over here. And it’s like a reset if you will without all the hallucinogens. I’m just here to start over,” says Barken.  
Now that the prayer event has passed, officials say that the majority of people are expected to leave the Black Hills in upcoming days. The last day of the Rainbow Family Gathering is July 7th.