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Few details yet known about road closures, parking related to Saturday Trump rally at Butler Farm Show grounds

President Donald Trump speaks to a large crowd during his Butler County rally Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020 at the Pittsburgh-Butler Regional Airport Saturday. Butler Eagle File Photo

The United Republicans of Butler County is helping to organize the rally for Donald Trump on Saturday, July 13, but much is still unknown about road closures, parking and transportation that will be needed to manage the expected crowd.

Cindy Hildebrand, chairwoman of the United Republicans of Butler County, said a sizable crowd is expected at the event at the Butler Farm Show grounds, which came together quickly.

According to Ken Laughlin, president of the Butler Farm Show board of directors, the grounds have hosted as many as 15,000 people, which was when the farm show was crowded with vendors and activities.

Hildebrand said Wednesday, July 10, that she may know more about its management following a meeting with the Secret Service, which will take place Thursday or Friday. She said, however, that her organization has been overwhelmed with people offering to volunteer at the event.

“They are overwhelmed with volunteers; that was exciting to hear,” Hildebrand said.

She said that U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th, has helped organize the rally, but her organization is helping to recruit volunteers and lay out other information for attendees.

Hildebrand said despite the lack of information available so far, the United Republicans of Butler County have taken steps to prepare for the event in other ways. The group is preparing to have cooling stations at the rally, as well as ambulances because of the expected heat.

She said she hopes to learn more soon, because her office has been getting frequent calls mainly about parking and handicap accessibility at the event.

Hildebrand also said the United Republicans group is aware of items attendees are not allowed to bring into the rally.

Prohibited items include aerosols; alcohol; appliances; backpacks and bags exceeding a certain size; balloons; balls; banners; signs or placards; coolers; drones; e-cigarettes; firearms; glass, thermal or metal containers; pepper spray and mace; noisemakers; packages; and poles.

Butler County Sheriff Mike Slupe said his department is working with the Secret Service to outline security details for the rally. Connoquenessing Township had not received any calls related to road closures or security as of Wednesday afternoon.

Slupe said the sheriff’s department helped with security at the 2020 rally, when several officers aided with security.

“We were in charge of the interior perimeter, and we had enough to have people on the outside as well,” Slupe said.

James Hulings, chairman of the Butler County Republican Committee, suggested that people who want to attend the rally get there early to secure a spot. People walked miles to see Trump at his 2020 rally at the Pittsburgh-Butler Regional Airport, and Hulings said, in an interview last week, that history may repeat itself at his return.

Jack Cohen, president of the Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau, said area hotels and businesses were already gearing up for the upcoming Can-Am Police-Fire Games, which begin next week, so availability of overnight stays may be limited this weekend.

Cohen also said he has tried to contact the Trump campaign team to welcome the former president to the county, as is customary for the bureau.

“When a dignitary comes into the community, it’s important to welcome them,” Cohen said. “Certainly, our ex-president is one of those people. We have already called in and asked if I may stop by and give him a gift basket and welcome to our community.”

Doors open for the rally at 1 p.m., and the event is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at the Butler Farm Show grounds, 625 Evans City Road in Connoquenessing Township.

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