(The Electric) President Donald Trump will hold a campaign rally in Great Falls on Thursday and area residents will need to be patient with some road closures, long lines at the Expo Park and each other.
Trump is expected to be campaigning in support of Matt Rosendale, the Republican challenger to Sen. Jon Tester in November’s general election.
The event will have an impact to local government resources, particularly public safety. This is the first week of the new fiscal year and both the City of Great Falls and Cascade County are currently working on their budgets.
Sheriff Bob Edwards said he has recalled all but two deputies from vacation, since those two had already paid for their trips. He said that would certainly have an impact on their overtime budget.
“It’s a historic moment really for Great Falls,” Edwards said. “Be kind to one another.”
Edwards said the county has hired Securitas to provide parking lot attendants for the rally and that will likely be an additional cost to the county.
Great Falls Police Chief Dave Bowen said there would be additional staff for the Fourth of July holiday and that would carry through the Trump visit.
Great Falls Municipal Judge Steve Bolstad told The Electric that he had to cancel court on July 5 since no police officers will be available.
Great Falls Fire Rescue will also be adding staff to provide any assistance necessary during the Trump event or around the city.
Edwards said that since it’s a campaign event, local government can request reimbursement for costs incurred, but he said he hasn’t broached that topic yet.
“We will do our job and worry about that later,” Edwards said.
Edwards said law enforcement from three nearby counties will also be present to support Cascade County during the Trump rally.
Bowen told The Electric there will be road closures on Thursday, but he can’t say where they are, and asked for the public’s patience and to be prepared for delays.
Whether at the Expo Park for the event or near the motorcade, officials stress that you should follow all directions from law enforcement and do not cross any road closure signs or security barriers.
The Four Seasons Arena can hold a max of 6,600 people and Edwards said no more than that will be allowed in.
Here’s some logistical information if you’re planning to attend the Trump rally or the planned protest.
Gate and Parking Information:
The Expo Park gate will be closed and locked starting tonight after the last employee leaves for the day. The gates will remain locked on Wednesday. Overnight camping is not allowed.
On July 5, three gates will be open for those attending the event. These gates will be open for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Those gates are:
- 3rd Street Northwest gate across from the Cowboys Bar
- 3rd Street Northwest gate behind First Interstate Bank
- 6th Street Northwest on the west side of the Expo Park
Gates will open at 10:30 a.m., but that time could change depending on Secret Service operations and Edwards asks attendees to be patient.
Parking attendants will direct traffic and officials ask that you follow their directions and do not cross any security barriers.
Those with the proper handicap parking license plates or decals will be guided to the handicap parking area.
Businesses near the Expo Park have their own rules about camping, but there are restrictions on city property.
Under city code, city parks are closed to vehicles and people from dusk to daylight; minors are subject to a city-wide curfew pursuant and it is also prohibited to obstruct any public right of way including streets and sidewalks.
Barriers have been put in place at the Expo Park for safety and security reasons. Do not cross any barriers that are in place to try and get ahead of the lines.
Anyone caught in a secure area could be removed from the Expo Park and not allowed entrance to the rally, Edwards said.
“Worst case scenario, you will be arrested and charged under Montana law or federal law,” Edwards said. “This is serious and we will not take it lightly.”
Lines for the Event:
Lines will be formed to the south of the Four Seasons Arena. This area is commonly known as the food midway during the state fair. There will be picnic tables and possibly benches in place for your comfort while waiting to get into the venue. The Paddock Club will be open and serving food and cold non-alcoholic drinks. Bathrooms will be available in the Paddock Club and in the Trades and Industries Building.
Edwards said water bottles will not be allowed to be brought into the arena but water will be available inside.
All persons attending will stay behind the barriers until the doors open. Doors will tentatively open at 1 p.m.
What not to bring to the event:
Do not bring weapons of any kind. This includes:
- Nothing sharp
- Pepper spray or chemical sprays
- Medical sharps will be evaluated by the Secret Service
- Medical devices will be evaluated by the Secret Service
(If in doubt…leave the item in your car or at home)
No lawn chairs or coolers for waiting in line. If you do bring these items, you will not be allowed to take it inside with you. There is nowhere to store those items and if anything is confiscated from you, you will not get it back, Edwards said.
Tickets issued through the DonaldJTrump.com site include these prohibited items: “No posters, banners, or signs may be brought into the event. There is no dress code. No professional cameras with a detachable lens are permitted. No tripods, monopods, selfie sticks or GoPros. ID is not required for entry. For further questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
For those attending to demonstrate or protest, an area has been designated for people to peacefully exercise their freedom of speech.
The area is located to the west of the Four Seasons Arena directly in front of the FFA barn.
For those not demonstrating, Edwards said, “please respect the rights of those that are peacefully protesting. Fighting, interfering with operations and disorderly conduct to name a few, will not be tolerated.”
An anti-Trump rally is also being planned for July 5 at the Expo Park. According to a Facebook event post, organizers wrote “this is intended to be a peaceful and nonviolent protest. Our intent is to rally to show Donald Trump that he is not welcome in our city and that Montanans don’t condone hate and we don’t need his help deciding our votes.”
What to expect overall:
There will be a strong law enforcement presence.
Expect long lines.
There will be no smoking area and once the event starts, you won’t be able to get back in if you leave the area.
Warm to hot weather with limited shade while in line. Be prepared. Non-alcoholic beverages and food are allowed in line and are available for purchase if you do not bring your own. Please use sunblock.
There is a potential to see demonstrators.
Every person that enters the Four Season Arena will be screened by the Secret Service. To avoid delays, cooperate fully with them to help make the process run smoothly.
Parking is available but you may be directed to park a fair distance from the Four Seasons Arena. Please be prepared to walk.