What a Great Event!
It looks like the Self Reliance Expo was a raging success. I know we had a great time, learned a lot, met a lot of great people, and got some great new gear. The vendors had folks lined up all day long, and the speakers all had nice crowds.
We left home early Friday morning, making out way west and south. We passed by Hickory, and could see a surprising large crowd of cars outside of the convention center for a Friday mid-day. We went on to Asheville where we toured Biltmore, the largest private home in the U.S. If you are ever in the area, it is well worth the time and the cost of admission. With 250 rooms, 4 acres of interior square footage, and 8,000 acres of land... and constructed of stone, it would be a jim-dandy place to ride out the breakdown.
We headed back to Hickory and checked in to our hotel, the Hampton Inn right next door to the convention center. If you ever have to be in Hickory, the Hampton Inn is a great hotel, very clean with super friendly staff. After getting settled, we headed out to grab a bite, then went to a local brew pub to meet Jack Spirko and fellow fans of The Survival Podcast, including Crystal and Greg who live not too far away from us.
Saturday morning dawned bright and early and I headed over to the convention center for the TSP fan early entrance and meet & greet with Jack. After that, I went and met our long-time sponsor, Jeff "The Berkey Guy" Gleason of Directive 21. I've spoken to Jeff on the phone a number of times, and was very glad to finely meet him in person. He is really a good guy and I had a great time talking with him.
I then walked back over to the hotel, got my wife, and we then went back over to the Expo. We spent the rest of the morning checking out the vendors and meeting great folks. We slipped out for lunch, then came back to catch the talk by Dr. William Forstchen, author of One Second After and several series of historical fiction that he co-authored with Newt Gingrich. He gave a fascinating talk about the threat of EMPs and why people should be prepping, not only for just that, but for other threats as well. Afterward, he stayed to sign books. I forgot to take my copy of One Second After, so I bought a copy of his new novel, The Battle of the Crater and got it signed. The book has special interest for me since that Civil War battle took place just right down the road from my house.
I then finished getting ready for my talk, Preparing Your Child For School Emergencies. As my time rolled around, Jack Spirko and his wife, Dorothy, were in the front row, and I also saw Crystal and Greg, and long-time reader, Bill, and his family. It was good seeing those familiar faces. The audience started of kind of small, but by the end, I had most of the seats filled. I think it went pretty well. Afterward, my wife and I had a table set up and sold a few paracord wristbands and If It Hits The Fan t-shirts while talking with some of the folks who listened to the presentation. Imagine my surprise when Bill Forstchen came over and thanked me for covering the topic. He joined the conversation and talked about some of his experiences and concerns for school safety at the college where he is a professor. Before he left, he gave me an autographed copy of To Try Men's Souls, a novel about Washington and the Revolution. I was extremely thrilled and honored.
We spent the remaining time visiting with more vendors and picking up some great things that we really needed. Here's some highlights:
I met Matt from My Patriot Supply and am very excited to say that we will be working together in the future as they become one our premier sponsors. At their booth, we picked up two Life Straws, something that has been missing from our Get Home Bags, and something that a reader asked about a long time ago... the review will be forthcoming soon. Matt gave me a Survival Seed Vault that I'll be reviewing and evaluating for you as well.
At Carolina Readiness Supply, we picked up a copy of Natural & Herbal Remedies for Headaches. Should be interesting reading to learn how to help take care of headaches without using big pharma.
I had a nice conversation with a gent from the Revolutionary War Veterans Association, the organization that does the amazing Project Appleseed marksmanship program. We really want to go through their program next year.
I met a lady that owns Down South Ammo with her husband. They make and sell an explosive binary target system. It's not the flaming explosion kind, but a little different. Looking at the demo videos on their website, they look pretty darn cool.
At G&R Foods, we picked up some more Bega canned cheese and Red Feather canned butter for the pantry. Both of those are delicious and great for long term storage or regular use.
From the nice ladies at Life Sprouts, we picked up a Sprout Master kit, with jars of Alfa-Plus mix, Pro Vita mix, Sunflowers and Chia, along with a book, Natural Sweets and Healthy Treats, by Rita Bingham. We both really love eating sprouts, and are looking forward to growing our own.
Equip 2 Endure had some really cool gear displayed, including a prototype slingshot made of micarta. And as a bonus, I finally got to meet the famous SisterWolf.
Daily Bread is a long-term storage food that I had not heard of before. They were serving up samples of Chicken Ala King from their freeze dried foods. If the Chicken Ala King is any indication of the rest of their foods, it is a company to add to your pantry. The Chicken Ala King was absolutely delicious!
Atlas Survival Shelters brought in their 32 foot corrugated pipe blast shelter. It is amazing how they have it set up inside for long term comfort and safety. Ahh, maybe someday.
I was glad to meet Bob, from Equipping The Workers. They make simple, yet durable and functional kydex, inside the pants holsters. They can make a holster for any pistol if they have a template, so I am on the list for when they can make one for my Colt Agent. We also talked about making one for the NAA Mini-Revolver. Seemed like real good people.
Homestead General Store had a big display area set up with all kinds of homesteading and "old-timey" household goods, ranging from solar ovens to oil lamps to a double binned manual washing machine with a hand cranked wringer. Pretty neat and useful stuff, I'm looking forward to checking out their website and catalog.
Finally, I chatted for a bit with Dave Kobler (a.k.a. SouthernPrepper1 on YouTube) of Practical Preppers. Dave was out there with the Simple Pump, a really great device that can be adapted to all but the deepest wells to keep water flowing to your home in a long term power loss.
We closed out the evening at another brew pub with Jack and Dorothy Spirko and a group of TSP fans.
I had an amazing time at the Self Reliance Expo. If it ever comes to a location even remotely close to you, I really encourage you take it in. The next one is Oct. 26-27 in Mesa, Arizona. I really want to thank Ron and Scott for giving me the opportunity to attend and speak. I also want to thank my new sponsor, My Patriot Supply, my old sponsor, Jeff Gleason at Directive 21, Jack and Dorothy Spirko, Bill (aka VT Paladin) and his family for making the trip, Dr. Forstchen, and the many wonderful vendors and attendees that I got to meet.