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I went to today's Preparedness Fair at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in Newport News, Va., not really knowing what to expect. All I had seen was a flyer... no website, no personal recommendations... just a flyer. Knowing what the LDS church believes and promotes about preparedness, I figured it would be worth checking out. I thought it might be a similar format to the local Survivor Day seminars I went to last January, with a series of speakers addressing an auditorium. It was much better.
As I pulled in to a full parking lot, I saw part of it roped off with a some folks out there with tables set up and some displays. I hoped that wasn't all there was. I then saw signs pointing inside and when I went in, I was greeted at the lobby by a nice young couple that gave me a door prize ticket. I went into the gymnasium where I saw it ringed with tables and two more rows of tables in the middle. I did the "gun show circuit" and started moving from table to table.
At each table, there was a person or two and some items on display. Most of the tables were staffed by church members with a particular interest or skill in that table's topic. Nobody was selling anything or giving a canned lecture, it was just conversation with questions and each table had a flyer or two to take on that table's subject.
The tables were: Short term food storage, #10 cans canning, Financial preparedness, Water storage, Water purification, Survival Cove Foods, Geneology, Raised bed gardening, Container gardening, Dehydrating, Thrive/Shelf Reliance, Sewing, Red Cross, Police community services, Sheriff's office child fingerprinting, Honeybees, 72-hour kits, Homemade disinfectants and cleaners, Couponing, HAM radio, CERT, Peninsula Agency on Aging, Grain grinding & food canning, EMP events, more 72 hour kits, Family disaster planning, U.S. Coast Guard, Year supply of food storage, Preparing the home for disaster, and Solar cooking and rocket mass stoves.
Outside, displayers featured: Chainsaw safety, Generators and power inverters, Vehicle emergencies and maintenance, Suburban livestock, Sprouting, and alternative cooking devices.
I met some very nice people who just wanted to help their fellow citizens learn and be prepared for disaster. One gentleman I spoke with named Jack Chase had to live with his family for two years on his storage foods back in the early 70s when he was out of work recovering from being stabbed in the gut. He runs a charity called The Needs Network that helps out people with food, clothes and furniture. He also operates Chef Noah and provides a ton of free information on his website and on a CD Rom he was giving out with information such as the LDS Preparedness Manual, the FEMA Are You Ready book, and many other open source documents. I'll be going through the CD Rom looking for information to share with you over the next few days. He also had a couple of toilet paper alcohol stoves out (you can read about them here) He had a penny taped to the lid, and I asked what the significance was, expecting something about the chemical reaction of copper or an old Mormon tradition or something. He does it so that you always have something with which you can pry off the lid... a real "duh" moment for me. Check out both of his sites, The Needs Network and Chef Noah, and please consider making a donation to The Needs Network if you can. I will do so myself.
A couple that had their home 72-hour kit on display was also giving out some things. They had a nice kit showing with all of the basics covered and organized into small, clear bags. Clothes, food, shelter, water purification, first aid etc... They keep it in one of those large plastic military shipping crates. They were giving out little bags with the type of thing that I encourage keeping in your barter larder for charity... hotel soap, tissues, and a toothbrush. They had another bag labeled as the Hy-Pak Crew Pack that has a couple of paper towels, some toilet paper, and some alcohol wipes - the type of thing that a person who has lost everything would be glad to have to "freshen up" a bit after a disaster.
I was particularly interested to meet the folks from Survival Cave Foods (corrected link). Survival Cave is a long term food storage company based right here in Virginia. I had never heard of them before, but I like what I see so far. They had some samples out in one of those triple crock pot things. First was the
They had a special promotion going for the fair, and told me that I could share it with you. Go to their site and place your order in the next 13 days, and use the discount code: PLAN and get 10% off your order. Please tell them that you heard about them here at If It Hits The Fan.
This Preparedness Fair was a great way for the LDS folks to introduce prepping to people who may not have put any thought into it yet. During the two hours or so that I was there, there were a couple of hundred people passing through. Give your local LDS church a call and ask if they ever do anything similar. It might even be an opportunity for you to pass on some of your skills or knowledge.