A conservative count of the people that showed up at the State Capitol in Helena on Sunday was between 500 and 1,000 according to Susan Campbell Reneau who traveled over from Missoula.

People marched around the capitol grounds, some holding homemade signs and many with bowed heads praying for the state to reopen as soon as possible from COVID 19 shutdown.

“People are here from all over the state,” said Susan Campbell Reneau. “I came over from Missoula and there are people from Miles City, Helena and Ekalaka. Not only are people walking on the sidewalk all around the Capitol grounds, but there is also a continuous line of cars, all led by six big green John Deere tractors brought in by U.S. House candidate Joe Dooling.”

Scott Tuxbury, a Republican candidate for State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner said he was impressed not just with the size of the gathering, but also the good-natured and peaceful protest to reopen the state.

“It’s a very, very peaceful gathering of folks who just want to the state to open back up again to get businesses reopened and back to work,” said Tuxbury. “Of course while maintaining social distancing and a common sense approach to getting all the small businesses up and running again.”

Secretary of State candidate Forrest Mandeville had a similar view of the rally that began at about noon around the state capitol grounds.

“I’d just like to see us get back to normal as quickly as possible,” said Mandeville. “This has just been a huge hit to the economy and my heart breaks for all the people in the restaurant and hospitality industry. We owe it to everyone in the state to get back to business as usual as soon as possible.”

Also attending the rally was Republican candidate for the U.S. House Debra Lamm, who said she was there to support small businesses and to join hundreds of others to pray for the leaders of the state.

“Most people that I’ve talked to are definitely restless and ready to go,” said Lamm. “Frankly, I’m very, very concerned about all of our small businesses throughout the state. So many of the people that I’ve talked to are not going to be able to survive this and they may never reopen. That’s going to put a huge burden on all of those families and the economy of our state.”

All the people that spoke to KGVO News were impressed with the organic nature of the rally, in that there were no ‘big name’ organizers or speakers, and that it was a peaceful but vocal demonstration in favor of reopening the state as soon as possible.