The latest installment of the Off The Grid News prepper expos series focuses on the Midwest Self Reliance Festival. The Des Moines, Iowa prepper expo offers another opportunity for survivalists and off- the-grid Americans to network with one another and hone their survival skills. The self-reliance festival will be held June 28 through 30 at the Valair Ballroom.
Midwest Self Reliance Festival organizer Bubba DaVinci recently sat down with Off The Grid News to share details about the prepper expo and highlight some of the featured speakers and workshops. The Iowa survival event will focus not only on preparing for either a man-made or natural disaster, but will offer multiple hands-on courses—including a concealed carry weapons permit class. Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy from Doom and Bloom will use a pig’s foot to teach suturing skills during the West Des Moines preppers festival.
OTG: What prompted the creation of the Midwest Self Reliance Festival?
Bubba: We are the operators of the Self Reliance Expo also, doing three of the largest events in the self- reliance space. Every year we get hundreds of emails asking us to go to smaller markets, and as much as we would like to, it’s just not possible. Additionally, when you talk to most vendors in this space, they will tell you that people in the Midwest already know these skills and are prepared. Well, since I have moved to the Midwest I have found that nothing is further from the truth. They might have been common skills known by the parents or grandparents of this generation, but this generation is looking to pick them back up. This event is an attempt to give that foundation to those that want it.
OTG: A concealed carry class will also be offered during the three-day June prepper expo. Do you feel that gun control legislation and ammo tax proposals have prompted more Americans to become concerned about firearms availability and future infringements upon the Second Amendment?
Bubba: Most companies who sell guns will tell you that their best salesperson is President Obama. Of course, additional regulations and taxes affect demand. This is something that we’ve seen time and time again in all industries. We try and remain outside of the political fray, but we have seen growing government encroachment on all of our rights. This started before the current administration, but they have accelerated it to an almost unimaginable degree. The second amendment is just one area where our rights are being chipped away.
We want as many Americans as possible to get their concealed carry permits because we want them to exercise their rights and because we believe everyone should be prepared to take care of themselves.
OTG: Is the ammo shortage still impacting the Des Moines, Iowa area?
Bubba: Yes. Just go to your local sporting goods store or even to a Walmart, and you’ll see that ammo, particularly certain calibers, is difficult to find. Recently, we’ve even had a hard time getting .22 shells, which in the past were readily available. Shelves are near empty and even when shipments arrive, most places limit the number of boxes shoppers can buy.
OTG: What should attendees expect from the presentation by Jackie Clay of Backwoods Home Magazine?
Bubba: Jackie has such a great, gregarious personality, that her audiences always have a good time. As her readers know, her range of knowledge is incredible. We are thrilled she is coming to share it with us in Des Moines. She’ll be talking about basics in canning and learning to live anywhere.
OTG: Jack Spirko is a blogger, podcast host, and entrepreneur. He is best known as the host of “The Survival Podcast” The show focuses primarily on modern survival concepts and philosophy. What topics will Jack Spirko be addressing at the Midwest Self Reliance Festival?
Bubba: I started listening to Jack when he was still living in Dallas and have always loved his take on prepping. Something that I’m a particular fan of is AgriTrue, which Jack started in 2011 as a free market solution that ensures care of the earth along with care of people without government interference. Jack will be talking about the “Fundamentals of Permaculture.” He’ll be teaching us about using natural systems to maximize food production.
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OTG: Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy of The Doom and Bloom Hour have quite a large following. The pair are certified master gardeners who often focus upon both traditional and alternative medical survival strategies. Nurse Amy is a certified nurse midwife and renowned as an expert on herbal remedies. Dr. Bones is a contributor to Survivalist Magazine, Self Reliance Illustrated, and Backwoods Home. Dr. Bones is a member of Mensa and utilizes 19th century medical books to garner insight into off-the-grid medical techniques.
Medical preps and self-reliance skills are almost always at the top of the survival and off-the-grid living “to do” list. What areas will the pair be covering during the Midwest Self Reliance Festival this year?
Bubba: Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy have become pillars of the self reliance industry and are a prime example of the modern prepper. They are charismatic, educated, and very down to earth. They’ll be teaching their suturing class and will be talking about what to do when help isn’t on the way. Everyone leaves their presentation with heads swimming in information. They’ll also have their custom medical kits available for sale.
OTG: What will the presentation from Whispers Herbal involve?
Bubba: Herbs are the one medicine with no expiration date. Herbs have been used for centuries for both food and healing. In modern western medicine, herbs and herbal remedies have been treated as old wives tales. Whispers Herbal will teach us about herbs we are surrounded with and how we can benefit from them.
OTG: A water filtration presentation is also scheduled during the Midwest Self Reliance Expo. Having access to clean drinking water after either a man-made or natural disaster is a top priority. If the power grid goes down due to a cyber attack, solar flare, or EMP, food and water will disappear from grocery stores within days—perhaps even hours. Is civil unrest a top concern for both the event organizers and folks who pushed to have such an expo in the area?
Bubba: Obviously, civil unrest is a possibility, but I don’t believe it is the primary reason people choose to be prepared. There is a great sense of comfort when you know that you and your family aren’t relying upon the government to rush to your rescue. You aren’t likely to find the people who come to our event sitting on their rooftop waiting for help after a disaster. They are far more likely to be the people ready to go out and help others.
OTG: Canning and gardening were once commonplace in America. Such skills were all but lost in many regions in the United States, prior to the growing self-reliance movement. Will the festival offer presentations about food storage and seed banks?
Bubba: Of course! Jackie Clay is a canning goddess and will be offering information about all aspects of canning. The Ploughshare Institute is providing classes on skills such as cheese making. Jack Spirko is teaching how to use natural systems to enhance your food production.
OTG: What type of disasters scenarios or issues do Iowa preppers appear to be concerned about most?
Bubba: Natural disasters and a breakdown of the supply chain seem to be the areas of the greatest concern. However, something that often goes overlooked, or at least unmentioned, is our proximity to nuclear reactors and the danger that brings.
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OTG: The Monsanto Protection Act and the unwillingness of the government to label GMO foods is causing alarm for Americans concerned about the safety of our food supply. How do you feel about GMO crops and what self-reliance advice can you offer for gardening beginners who want to grow or raise the bulk of the food served to their families?
Bubba: Wouldn’t it be great if we could modify the genetics of our food without causing any long-term effects? Regardless of the promises of safety from the government, we simply don’t have proof that these foods are safe. Many developed countries have completely outlawed GMO foods due to safety concerns. Currently, the only way to avoid GMO foods is to eat a completely homegrown diet. An organic diet comes close, but you are still at the mercy of accurate labeling.
OTG: It is far simpler to maintain a self-reliant, off-the-grid, or homesteading lifestyle when living in a rural area. Will the festival also have something to offer city dwellers and suburban residents interested in becoming less dependent on others and government services?
Bubba: The beauty of being prepared is that you can do it anywhere. The most important step is simply to get started. That is what we want to help people do—get started. You can get prepared in an apartment in the city or a house in the country. It is just a matter of starting. We provide options for every lifestyle. Some people want an off-the-grid lifestyle, others simply want to know that they can survive a short-term crisis. We can help them all by providing the basics and more.
OTG: What is the Zombie Squad?
Bubba: Zombie Squad is a non-profit community service and disaster preparedness organization. Its name was inspired by the movie 28 Days Later and they use the term “Zombie Apocalypse” to refer to any natural or man-made disaster. They present disaster preparedness in a serious manner while still maintaining a sense of humor and remaining grounded in non-disaster life.
OTG: What is the Project Appleseed workshop all about?
Bubba: Project Appleseed is an incredible program. It is part of a non-profit Revolutionary War Veterans Association and is dedicated to teaching every American our shared heritage and history, as well as traditional rifle marksmanship skills. They have programs all over the country for adults and children. At our event, they will be providing historical presentations and a marksmanship class for children.
OTG: In addition to the solar cooking, soap making, and cheese making classes, a bee-keeping workshop is also scheduled during the Midwest Self Reliance Festival. How concerned are festival organizers and presenters about the vast decrease in the bee population and the possibility of a Monsanto-created Roundup Ready queen bee?
Bubba: The thought of GMO bees is terrifying. Monsanto is responsible to their shareholders for profit and growth, but they are also responsible for honestly representing their products and the effects they have upon our environment. There seems to be ample evidence that Roundup has severe effects on the bee populations. Monsanto can’t improve upon nature. A queen bee may be modified to tolerate their poison, but as with all GMO animals, we don’t know the long-term repercussions. A much simpler solution would be to end the use of Roundup.
OTG: Are the presentations at the prepper expo geared solely to those currently involved in a self-reliant lifestyle, or can newbies benefit from attending as well?
Bubba: Everyone can benefit. We have basic classes to introduce new skills to people, as well as providing more advanced information for the life-style preppers.
OTG: How can folks wishing to attend the Midwest Self Reliance Festival get tickets, and what types of options are available?
Bubba: You can buy them via the Valair Ballroom website or at the door. Tickets are $6.00 per day or $12 for all three days. That price includes all the classes except the suturing class, including your free conceal carry training and paperwork.
The festival is open from noon to 7 pm on Friday and Saturday and from 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday. Children age 12 and younger are admitted free. There will be approximately 30 vendors at the Midwest Self Reliance Festival. Each day the event organizers will give away 150 free concealed carry classes to festival attendees. The course meets Iowa state firearms education requirements.