A Great Place to Hunker Down

This guest post by Marilyn C and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

If the SHTF on Saturday while I was away from home I was defiantly in the right place. I attended the National Preppers and Survivalists EXPO at the Nashville fairgrounds. I will admit I was excited as the publicity promised lots of educational opportunities and booths from some of my favorite on-line stores. I recruited my friend Alan to go along with me as I planned to stay all day and soak in the knowledge as promised. We drove up to park, and the first thing we saw was a Triton bunker all set up to tour.

The next thing I noticed was a very long line of people many with an AR-15 slung over their shoulders. I then realized that there was a gun show happening in the next building. Luckily the crowd to enter the EXPO was waiting inside the building, and at that time it was much shorter than the gun show line. We decided to walk thru the bunker as there was about 10 minutes before the doors opened. It was very nicely appointed. It was actually nicer than my house, and I immediately realized that it was way out of my price range. I don’t think I could afford the Faraday cages that were sitting outside the bunker to house your ATV or generator. So we moved on.

Once inside, the volunteers were encouraging everyone to sign up for the drawing for $10,000 in products. Looking at the piles of goods on the table we quickly signed entry slips, and I silently decided which items I hoped to win. The drawing was to be held at 3:00 the next day.

The Keynote address was scheduled for 9:30, so we had about 15 minutes to start checking out the booths. I immediately bought some gallon Mylar zip-lock bags with O2 absorbers from the first booth I came to that was called discount Mylar bags. They had several sizes, and since I am prepping for the two of us I wanted to give the gallon size a try. Five gallon buckets of beans seemed a bit much for us. I briefly looked at a few booths that I was not interested in and stopped at the demonstration of a product called Utility Flame. This is the goo that will burn on top of the snow. I was impressed and bought a few packets to add to my already extensive fire-starting preps. The next booth was one that I recognized from on-line. They sell a variety of pre-packed Go Bags plus a good assortment of other items. I picked up a couple of bottles of No Rinse shampoo and body wash.

Time had gotten away from me, and I realized that I was missing the Key Note Address. I was very disappointed with the set up of the educational talks. Once I got there it was located in the middle of the building which made it also in the middle of a huge buzz of noise. The place had filled up with people, and it was very hard to hear the presenters. I had missed the opening address, and when I arrived the next presenter was talking about safe drinking water being your most important prep. The problem was that the microphone wasn’t working properly, and you could only understand every other word.

Plus it was very hard to hear over the noise around us. My friend who has some hearing loss couldn’t hear well enough to understand the talk and left. Once this was over the EXPO people apologized and said there would be a break and that they had a new system on the way. I went to wander around some more.

I bought a sample box from Go Foods. It contained three two-person sealed meals and three beverage sample flavor packets for less than ten dollars. It was perfect to add to my go bag. I recently had experienced sticker shock at my local Army Navy store on the price of MRE’s and had been looking for alternatives. Luckily about ten years ago I got a “tip” of a case of MREs from a client after birthing their baby, and my son had appropriated it for hunting. I recently visited my son and returned with three packs.

I returned to the stage area to find that the next presenter had decided to go forward with his talk without a microphone. He was appropriately speaking on First Aid, and when I could get close enough to hear he was discussing quick clot and tourniquets. He was standing on one folding chair with his foot propped on the back of another. I was sure that we were going to get to practice the lesson at any minute.

I went back to cruising the booths as I was not interested in the next two talks. I bought some 3,600 calorie bars, a couple of emergency blankets and a 50 pack of coffee and fruit drink to mix with water from the next booth. It turns out the guy I bought them from would be the best presenter I attended that day. His name was Bob Gaskin, and he seemed well-informed and made his subject interesting. I went back to his booth for his card when he mentioned that he had a radio program, and it would be available on You Tube soon.

There were many long shelf life food companies represented. Most were the usual you see on-line. A few interesting exceptions were a company that sells Shelf Stable ready to eat sandwiches. They were very tasty but a bit pricey. I could see them being very handy for a day trip. The other was a small company that sold self-heating meals. Again they were expensive but yummy if you were going camping for a few days. They may have a place in your car but took up to much space for your preps.

Several reality companies were represented. It seems that the Cumberland Plateau in TN is a dream prepper location and soon will not be as sparsely populated as it is now. One company had a riding community that didn’t allow hunting and was planning a “fun” tree house community. The shelter community that caught my eye and scared my pocket book was planned for many states. The $50,000 + membership fee and the $3,000+ yearly Association Fee made even the Timeshare people blush. This did not include the shelter but did afford you approximately ten acres of privacy. As far as I could tell, I think there was one community in Texas and 14 planned for others states.

Other interesting booths included the booth of Eastern Tennessee Preppers who were selling inexpensive survival blankets and vitamins and giving away their cool bumper stickers. I am putting mine in my bunker due to OP SEC. There was a company that sold a rain collection tarp that drained rain water into a large pillow-looking thing. I guess it would be great if you didn’t need to move it.

There were a few gas and particle mask companies. I bought a great BOB from a company that has a lifetime guarantee. It is very well-made and half the price at the EXPO than I had seen it on-line. My husband said “good luck with that warranty if the SHTF”. He has a point. Several knife venders and gun safe dealers were represented, but I figure most of them were next door.

There were a few seed companies and many varieties of cooking stoves. The one I found most interesting is the one the cooks your food and charges your phone at the same time. Another interesting observation were the essential oil companies. Back when prepping was called going back to the land“, I believe some of the people who are now the modern-day preppers would have found this to be a bit “new age”. Don’t get me wrong. As soon as I can afford it I plan to get some oils for a time when the drug store shelves are empty, and we are on our own.

I went to one more presentation on gardening and realized that most of the education was from presenters who wanted to sell their products, and I could read it on line. I decided to call it a day since I had already spent more then I had planned, and the best way to stop it was to leave.

I had one more stop before I headed out the door. I wanted to meet the casting director for Doomesday Preppers. We chatted a bit about my somewhat unusual prepping goals, and I picked up a questionnaire for season 3. I am not sure if I will fill it out. I do fit the description of the poor prepper that people on the website are asking for.

I did decide to go back the next day for a short time so my husband could look around. We got there just before the drawing and I was excited at the prospect of winning something useful. You can imagine my disappointment when I realized that just one person won it all. That one very happy person left lots of disappointed others. Somehow I missed that memo. All in all I had a good time at the EXPO. I got to fondle stuff that I had read about, and I learned a few new tricks.

Alan ended up filling out an application for Doomesday Preppers, but I am not sure it was for the love of prepping or the very good looking lady at the booth. I will definitely attend in the future if it comes back to Nashville. If anyone wants more info on any of the products I mentioned please e-mail me at [email protected] because I have a stack of handouts and brochures. If you end up in one of those fancy prepper communities with a bunker with a flat screen TV I am free on weekends.

One quick side note. Today, the electricity went off due to weather. I was ready with food, water, flashlights, etc. I did find that the one item I haven’t prepped was toilet paper. So I hopped in the Blazer, drove ¼ mile to our small country store, brought my change cup because she couldn’t use the cash register and the guys outside would know what was going on. I now plan to stockpile some toilet paper, so when the SHTF I am truly ready.

Did YOU go to the expo? We would love to hear about it in the comments below…

This contest will end on April 22 2013  – prizes include:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first…  Bug Out Bag Meals: DYI MREs

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Do you know if they have these types of shows up here in New Jersey? Or, if nothing else, point me in the right direction to see where I can obtain show dates that may be close to where I am located?

    I would love to attend such an event.

    • Hi Mike
      Join The National Preppers and Survivalists organization. You can Google them and sign up for their newsletter. It is not as good as this one ( personal preference ) but it is how I found out about the EXPO. I also got free tickets to attend through them. They are a National forum so they would be able to hook you up. Good Luck.

    • axelsteve says:

      One thing that I have always wondered if homeowners asocition fees are tax decuctable or not?

      • I guess if you put Professional Prepper on your tax form it would be and think of how helpful you would be to the govt. when they come for your stuff.

  2. Thanks for the report.

  3. YW

  4. Won’t being on TV let all your neighbors know where the preps are when SHTF?

    • Yes BUT if I was on Doomesday Preppers ( depends how much Wise food they pay me ). I would not be at my primary location very shortly after the SHTF. My Bug out location would have to be kept secret and other preps would stay secret. I am not allowed guns and am developing alternative methods of defense so I think the lazy people are mostly looking to rip off guns and would be disappointed if they came to my humble home.

      • PM

        Why are you not allowed guns? Former felon? Hubby feels not safe with you having gun, LOL. Guns ain’t bad, only the person behind them. I have a 12 ga Ithaca 51 for sale, cheap. 150.00. I have to many shotguns and want to get another .22 rifle. let me know if you are interested and we can hook up.

        • I am a newly minted felon. Our guns are the reason. We were growing medical marijuana in our basement. A “friend” turned us in and due to our guns it went federal. The feds took our guns, my car, and the home we built. I want to make it clear that we NEVER used the guns in our “crime”. Out of four guns 2 had been in the family for several generations and we would not fire them due to safety. They were 22 rifles and we had no ammo for them. One was a 9mm hand gun that I bought years ago and my grown kids had fired once. I bought it to protect me at work but shortly after they hired a security guard. I never had the time or money to take a carry class so it sat on a shelf in the box with the original box of shells. The other was what they are calling an “assault rifle” It is an SKS that my husband the antique dealer bought from a friend. We used it to keep the varmints at bay on our 100 acre piece of land in the middle of no where TN. They took that and our house before we were even found guilty. So long story made short we can not have guns but I will be writing an article about alternative methods of protection. I never thought much about the guns until they were gone and we moved and I realized how vulnerable we are. I am in my 60’s and my husband is disabled. I hope you find a buyer for your gun and get the one you want.

  5. axelsteve says:

    Pam You are right however you can also do a disinformation episode also.Hello I am Axel Steve the vegan Obama voting prepper. I do this so The president can have more room in the fema camps and zi can turn over my preps to dhs if he wants me to.

    • Hi Axel
      I came across a vegan prepping link the other day if you need some info. LOL

      • axelsteve says:

        Prepper Midwife. No thank you vegans eat what food eats.

        • No Vegan here. Don’t hunt right now but when the SHTF, look out bambi !

          • axelsteve says:

            Prepper midwife. I do not hunt yet iether but I have in the past.

          • Hunting is not as easy as seen on TV. I would suggest to anyone wanting to supplement their diet with fresh meat to start hunting now while most consider it a hillbilly pastime and not a necessity.
            Black powder arms are not considered “firearms” in many states and only have a proof of age requirement even to ship. Modern hunting bows and air rifles are other devices that you may want to purchase before they become scarce. And, never, never underestimate the power of a well placed sling shot.

  6. It seems these producers of these expos are new to conventions, I hope they can work out the problems.

    Yes I agree with you that one person winning all prizes is disappointing, the wrong thing to do to make a lot of people happy.

    People who have booths are trying to sell things. That’s the nature of conventions, but if the promoters want to create more enjoyment, it would be great if they let the public participate. When I helped run conventions and rendezvous’, we had all kind of contests of skills, on hands training, using audience to demonstate, and famous people to speak, besides raffles or door prizes.

    There are no prepper type expos where I live, but there may be “some” prepper goods at hunting, gun, camping, and sporting expos here, mostly all combined in one show..

  7. Prepper Expos, the new Home and Garden Show. LOL. The cynic in me won’t let me see things like this as anything other than yet another way for a few companies to whip folks into a impulse spending spree. I am sure there were vendors there who genuinely subscribe to the prepper philosophy, but as many or more who saw a market segment ripe for the picking and pounced on it, like the government exploiting our fears in order to erode our rights.

    One thing I still don’t get is how these folks who go on Doomsday expect to maintain OPSEC. I don’t really get their thought process. Maybe it’s the draw of short term fame or some other ego-driven motivation. I have watched a few and taken note of one or two strategies, but mostly just felt sad for folks who don’t seem to realize they are being exploited for an entertainment buck. I can barely make it through most of them because I either get sick of the seemingly arbitrary “rating” they dole out, or I see these people who have spent thousands or millions and feel like I am woefully unprepared. So I turn it off and go work on my preps.

    Anyway, thanks for the field report!

    • There was some great stuff there and I would have spent more if I had it. This is the same reason I would go on Doomesday Preppers ( did I mention I need more Wise food ). I would not keep most of my preps at my primary location and I have no guns. Not my choice ! And I would trade my fifth born for a Triton bunker. LOL

    • Rabid Conservative says:

      I went to the show, as well, and while I would agree that these kind of events can definitely induce impulse buying, they are also very informative. It’s one thing to read about a product, but it’s another thing to see it in action. In my case, I had read about the Powerpot that generates electricity from heat, but they were one of the exhibitors at the show, so I could see it in action, and more importantly, ask a few questions about it. A number of the vendors selling freeze dried food also had some you could sample. Hard to do that over the Internet.

      • Good points. Thanks for the perspective.

        Just saw that Powerpot a few days ago. Very interesting concept.

        • I definitely got a belly full of samples. It was like Sam’s on a good day. I got an e-mail from someone wanting info on the BIG yellow wood fire to electricity generator. Did you get the name of it? It is a power pot on steroids !

          • Rabid Conservative says:

            I had information on it, but I tossed it. Great concept in theory, but the REALLY BIG drawback to the device was that it could only burn wood that had been reduced to 1″ or smaller chunks. To do that, you would have to have a fairly big wood chipper. While you could power your wood chipper with the gas produced by this wood gasifier, it kinda defeats its purpose, since you probably want to use the wood gas for your generator.. Not to mention all the time it would take to chip all the wood you need to burn. The other problem I saw was that it would only burn for about two hours before you needed to reload the firebox. Okay during the day, but not something you want to be doing in the middle of the night. And far too costly for my taste at $3500. I can buy a lot of solar panels and batteries for that kind of money that requires a lot less effort on my part.

  8. May I ask? Exactly how much information was required on the drawing/contest entry slip? Any idea what happened to the slips afterward? Somebody may have built a great data base.

  9. Backwoods Prepper says:

    PM If you have a crawl space or attic Toilet paper and paper towels insulates it really well lol. We don’t have an attic but we have a crawl space that SCOTT toilet paper would be proud of.

    • Great idea TX

      • Babycatcher says:

        On the other hand, it makes great mouse bedding. 🙁 my hubby is installing more shelving so I can stack paper products plentifully…say THAT three times fast…PM, thank you for writing about the show. I wanted to go so badly and couldn’t, and felt like your wonderful description helped me be there in spirit.

  10. FIREMEDIC1991 says:


  11. FIREMEDIC1991 says:


  12. I went to the EXPO. I was also very disappointed with the speakers. You also had to be very careful what you purchased. I bought some of the Utility Flame at a cost of 2.50 and later found it on the web for 1.25. I noticed that many of the vendors also sold out the morning of the first day. There having another EXPO in Atlanta this fall; hopefully they will learn from there mistakes

  13. Doomsday Preppers is a total joke. Probably a front for the DHS to locate unknown preppers. Anyone who is foolish enough to give up all of their trade secrets and show the world, will deserve what’s coming to them.

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