Friday, May 18, 2012

Busy day at the Self-Reliance Expo!

Man oh man, what a concentrated and busy day it's been at the Self-Reliance Expo in Colorado Springs!

This Expo is put on by a group called the Red Shed Media Group, which sponsored the mixer I attended yesterday evening.

What a treat it was to meet so many people! The Backwoods Home Magazine staff was there in full force. Here's Dave Duffy (left) sitting next to Steve Bedford (The Survival Mom's husband).

The Expo was held (appropriately enough) at the Expo Center.

We arrived early enough to finish helping set up the Backwoods Home booth (where Jackie Clay and I were parking ourselves).

I had a few books and tankards to sell, though (as I explained to curious visitors) the tankards could hardly be called "preparedness-related" except insofar as they demonstrated how it's possible to make a living from home.

By opening there were crowds outside the door.

This young couple, Wilson and Chaya of Pantry Paratus, had one of the niftiest booths at the Expo. It was like a general store for Preppers.

Their booth was just around the corner from the Backwoods Home booth, and I was delighted to see it was always packed.

One of the more amazing sights was this Subterranean Long Term Food-Storage Vault (for only $15,000) which looked bizarre...

...but secretly I thought it was a spiffy concept.

This is the remarkable Jackie Clay, homesteader extraordinaire and one of the most down-to-earth people I've ever met. Since we both hung out at the Backwoods Home Magazine booth, I had a chance to get to know her (after admiring her for years). Evidently I wasn't alone in my admiration -- she was a huge draw for the booth and barely had a chance to sit down all day.

Speaking on this stage was challenging. The acoustics in the building were bad, there was no podium or lectern for notes (I borrowed a high table from the snack bar to use as a lectern) and the microphone was handheld -- but let me tell you, every speaker had a packed audience.

This woman's name is Jeri McFarlane and she's the inventor of a spiffy gizmo called a Jar Box, which is a stackable canning jar unit. Here's she's holding an iPad...

...showing how her product is now being carried by Lehman's (which is charging a whole lot more than she was charging here at the Expo). She was thrilled that her product is getting more widespread attention, and I thought it was nifty that this spunky woman invented and followed through in the manufacturing of the product entirely herself.

This is Brad Stieg of the Tattler Reusable Canning Lid company. Talk about a thrill to meet him. Y'all know how much I love my Tattler lids! (By the way, Brad is being flown down to Texas this upcoming Tuesday to appear on the Glenn Beck show. No kidding.)

Here's Jackie Clay chatting with a fascinating fellow named Bill who especially wanted to meet the Backwoods Home crew and came specifically for that purpose. Darned nice guy.

This is Dave Duffy (left) with Don Childers, the artist who's painted nearly every cover of Backwoods Home Magazine since its inception. Don and his wife Nancy were charming.

I had the chance to meet a lot of wonderful readers. There must have been fifteen or more who introduced themselves over the course of the day. And people were coming from so far away to attend the Expo! One woman came from Arkansas, another from San Diego -- and this was by no means unusual. I believe the Red Shed Media Group is on the right course, providing opportunities for a meeting of minds between vendors and experts, and attendees who are concerned about the future.

Interestingly, one of the booths was being held by the National Geographic Doomsday Preppers documentary folks. While I can't say for certain, it didn't look like they had a lot of interest. In other words, no one attending the event evidently wanted to be categorized as a kook for showing interest in intelligent preparedness, so they avoided the Doomsday Preppers booth like the plague.

In fact, the overall atmosphere for this Expo was overwhelmingly positive.  Visitors were keenly interested in the booths and products, the speaker talks were packed, and people were asking very intelligent questions.  For those of us to whom prepping is merely an extension of the self-reliant lifestyle we're trying to achieve, we felt like kids let loose in a candy store.  Every booth was fascinating, every vendor was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and altogether it was a remarkably positive experience.

I look forward to tomorrow!


  1. What I wouldn't give to be in your shoes on that day - thanks for the post & pics. That vault reminds me of the fatboy bomb ... lol 15k huh I'll have to settle for DIY vaults.

  2. You had an action packed day for sure! Sounds like so much fun. I know I would have blown my budget big time doing shopping at all the booths

  3. What a cool post, and weekend. And don't forget that they get to hang with you too. I would have
    liked to have attended and met everyone. Thanks for the update.

  4. I hope you make it to the Dallas show in July!

    1. Sadly, I can't -- I'm already committed to a selling venue in Portland that weekend.

      - Patrice

    2. Shucks. Maybe if I make it to my moms in sand point I'll see you at a fair near there.

    3. When and where in Portland? JB in Portland!

  5. wish an expo like this was closer to home in mississippi..thank you for the good review of what it is all about...i hope to get to go see for myself someday.

    1. Hickory, NC Sept 14th-15th and Arlington, TX July 27th-28th Is as close as we get this year. I hope to get closer next year

    2. We have events in Hickory N.C. Sept 14th-15th and Arlington TX July 27th-28th. Thats as close as we get this year. Sorry! We will try to get closer next year

  6. Oh, so nice to see the Jar Box lady! I just got my latest copy of Lehman's catalog and saw that in there. That's something that has been needed for YEARS!

    I, uh, can't really afford them from Lehman's, though.

    Oh, the Tattler's reusable canning jar lids are in there as well (Lehman's catalog).

  7. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)May 19, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    Looks like a good time was had by all! Did you meet any more fellow bloggers? Oh, how I wish we had something like this expo in my area.. (and you would be there)!
    Brad Stieg runs ads on GBTV-I never miss a show, so I'll be sure to see him.
    'Hope you sold a lot of tankards & books!

  8. Oh how fun! Now I'm wondering how much the jar-box lady is selling her wares for... I could definitely used many of those boxes - would make organizing the whole slew of things a lot easier (or I'm sure I could get enough friends together to go in co-op style on a giant order).

  9. Wow that all looks like SO MUCH FUN! How super cool that you got to meet all the Backwoods folks, and all the other awesome folks I'm sure you ran into. And the fancypants hotel stay looked like tons of fun, too. I am all around envious of your wild, traveling adventures. :)

  10. I can sense the excitement in your "voice."

    What a thrill to meet all those people...and what a thrill it probably was for them to meet you.

    Just Me

  11. It was a pleasure meeting you today (Saturday) at the Expo. I too, noticed how 'ignored' the Doomsday Prepper booth was! While I didn't buy much, other than canned ammo", as gifts for friends, it was a fun, social few hours. Glad you were part of it
    (and thank you for the Blog you do)
    Matt P

  12. That would have been fun! I wished we had one closer to us.