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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
- First Place winner will receive – A $500 dollar gift certificate courtesy of LPC Survival that is good for $500 off anything on their site. And a Wonder Junior Deluxe hand-mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads,
- Second Place winner will receive – Two cases of MRE’s courtesy of Camping Survival and a $150 gift certificate off of Hornady Ammo from LuckyGunner.
- Third Place winner will receive - a one year subscription to Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable.