Live updates: Trump arrives in Great Falls today, gates are now open at Expo Park
Look to the skies around 3:30 p.m. today as President Trump is scheduled to land around that time at the Great Falls International Airport.
Trump will speak at a campaign rally at 4 p.m. at the Four Seasons Arena in Montana Expo Park in support of Republican candidates for Montana congressional seats.
As of 2:20 p.m. lines were winding around the Expo Park for blocks and the bleachers inside were filling up but the floor area around the podium is still fairly open.
According to Cascade County officials, 2,000 people filed into the arena within the first hour and a half.
As of the event start just after 4 p.m., county officials said the attendance was close to 7,000.
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, Montana Sen. Ed Buttrey and Cascade County Commissioner Joe Briggs are in the arena.
At 3 p.m., the pre-program started with Carrie Kent, former 341st Missile Wing command chief and staffer for Sen. Steve Daines, giving the invocation.
3:19 p.m. Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton speaks. He compares Trump to Ronald Reagan and said “President Trump is taking on big ideas.”
Stapleton said Montana would elect a Republican governor in 2020.
Fox said securing the border is needed to prevent methamphetamine from coming into the U.S. and Montana from Mexico.
When he finished his remarks, he started the crowd chanting “Thank you President Trump.”
City officials said a number of people were having heat related medical emergencies and were running low on available ambulances.
Great Falls Fire Rescue has several crews staged around the fairgrounds and have responded to several medical emergencies in the arena already.
Trump is scheduled to speak for about an hour and a visit to Malmstrom Air Force Base is not on the schedule released by the White House.
At 5:25 p.m., Trump was still speaking to a full capacity crowd.
There are no other Great Falls stops on the President’s schedule.
People have already started lining up outside the Expo Park, but gates don’t open until 10:30 a.m.
There will be road closures when the Great Falls Police Department provides escort for the motorcade between the airport and the fairgrounds, but those closures and the route are not publicly releasable so GFPD Chief Dave Bowen has asked the public to be prepared for closures and to have patience today.
Both the city and Cascade County have called back additional staff for law enforcement, medical, event staff and the jail. There will be impact to the overtime budgets for those agencies and Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards said because it’s a campaign event, there’s the possibility of reimbursement for local government costs, but that hadn’t been discussed as of Tuesday.
Law enforcement from surrounding counties are also coming to support the event.
Protesters and counter-protesters are also expected. An area has been established at the fairgrounds for those wanted to peacefully express their First Amendment rights, Edwards said.
A man was arrested Wednesday afternoon after stopping his car in the middle of 10th Avenue South and telling police that he was protesting Trump.
Trump has been targeting Sen. Jon Tester since Tester released information about Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Trump is expected to stump for Tester’s opponent, Matt Rosendale.
Tester will not be attending the rally. He’s holding a listening session at 1 p.m. in Billings discuss the impacts of tariffs on the state’s economy.
Trump visit confirmed; tickets now available
The Montana Democratic Party has organized a door-to-door effort to rally support for Tester and Kathleen Williams, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Greg Gianforte.
For information on parking, entrance lines, prohibited items and what to expect at the fairgrounds, head over to this story from Tuesday:
President Trump is coming to Great Falls on Thursday, here’s what you need to know