As mentioned last week, the family and I made the trip to Boonsboro, Maryland over the weekend, to attend the Second Annual Mid-Atlantic Preparedness and Survival Expo. In some respects, it went exactly as expected; in other ways, not so much.
A quick note: Nothing presented below is intended as endorsement for any of the vendors. If I ever get sponsored by anyone, or paid/gifted to review an item, I’ll be sure to let you know. As to the presenters, I’m going to call ‘em like I see ‘em; please keep in mind that I respect them, and what they’re saying, even though I may not agree with it.
In all, I attended two presentations, and eavesdropped on a few more. One of them was a “good-enough” overview of food preservation. It was a decent 10000-foot view; enough to cover almost every type of preservation in a 45-minute period, but not deep enough to really teach how to do any of it. The presenter, Greg Smith of SurvivalFoodPlan.com, was nice enough; we had a good chat, afterwards, being both Navy vets. I was struck that he seemed almost embarrassed to admit to smoking, drying, and curing meat–almost as if he felt he was “betraying” his company, and the rest of the freeze-dried food industry…
The second presentation caught my attention on the schedule: “How to Prioritize your Preps, Basing Them on Realistic Scenarios,” presented by J. C. Dodge, from Mason-Dixon Tactical. While the presentation title looks good–this is, after all, one of the things I regularly espouse–the actual presentation left a bit to be desired.
First was the content. The list of “realistic scenarios” included:
- Nuclear attack, and/or EMP;
- Biological attack,
- Chemical attack,
- Economic collapse,
- Natural disaster,
- Tyrannical government.
In other words, it was pretty ‘classical’ right-wing Rawlesian type stuff. Overall, I felt that the presentation was a bit disorganized and rambling, with not a lot of actual point to it.
A few key phrases from various points:
- “…convincing your liberal, anti-gun, head-in-the-sand neighbor…”
- “…diseases coming across the border that we defeated 100 years ago, but our kids aren’t vaccinated because we’re no longer worried about [the diseases]…”
- [the author of an online book about nuclear survival) “…was a special forces guy; he ended up becoming a scientiest…”
Perhaps the most coherent, logical thing that was said was that you should “research what disasters are prevalent in your area, and prepare for those.”
(There was another presentation on Permaculture that I would have liked to have seen; unfortunately, the day was growing long, and the family and animals needed to be fed…)
I found overall that the vendors were much more interesting. There were fully four companies selling solar panels or systems, one of whom had trailer- and cart-mounted “solar generators.” Three vendors had the pervasive “survival food storage” of buckets/cans of freeze-dried stuff. There were multiple purveyors of the assorted miscellany of first-aid supplies and hiking/camping goods. There were two knife vendors, and one vendor dedicated solely to fire-starting equipment. (At least two others were giving demonstrations of their various fire-strikers.) There was one solar oven seller, and one company even offered a home freeze-dryer. The piece-de-resistance was a fully-loaded, 100% equipped, turn-key bug-out trailer, complete with roof-mounted tent, solar panel, wind turbine, water heater/pump, 3 days’ worth of food, batteries, tools, etc.
A few other random observations overall: a large number of the people there probably couldn’t “prep” their way out of a wet paper bag, never mind an emergency situation. Folks: if your waist diameter is greater than your height, you probably need to worry about something other than your ammo. Also, to the ladies who used crutches where necessary, but their wheelchairs everywhere possible: if you cut out the chain-smoking, your overall health (and longer-term survival prospects in most other ways) will improve dramatically.
Perhaps most pervasive of all: fear. It was being sold from the vendors, and it was being preached at the seminars. As near as I could tell, it was fear of what they didn’t understand, be it biological agents or the workings of the government. And, tellingly, there seemed to be a lack of desire to learn about and understand them.
As a point of irony to the whole thing, after the last presentation we attended, my wife, kids, and I popped over to a Master Gardener’s Project (not a part of the Expo, but as the Expo was being held at the county agricultural center, it was right there) and looked for a brief while at what & how things were being grown. We were the only ones there, a mere 50′ across a grassy lawn from the Expo, amid “true preparedness” of edibles, medicinals, utilitarian plants, and decorative flowers. It was kind of sad, in a way.
Next week, I plan on looking at a commercially available “72-hour-kit-in-a-bucket”. Stay tuned!