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!