Monday, April 11, 2011

Self Reliance Expo - Denver Edition

I can not tell you how excited I was when I learned that there was a Self Reliance Expo coming to Denver. I recruited a friend to come with me (who ended up bailing on me because her parents showed up for a surprise visit for her birthday. I can't blame her.) and notified my husband (who declined outright) and got gussied up for the event. Now, I can't tell you exactly what I was expecting. But I was expecting....something else. The expo opened at 9am on Saturday and I was there at 10am. No small feat considering I brought my youngest child with me who requires a stroller, massive quantities of snacks and a great deal of patience when in a confined space. Parking was $8 which I find to be extortion, especially given the size of the expo. Tickets were $7 online or $9 at the door. I forgot to buy it online. I did get INCREDIBLY lucky though and walked through the parking lot with a group of people who offered me their spare ticket. They had purchased online but their 4th person had been unable to attend. I offered to buy the ticket off of them (it still was saving me $2) but they declined. AND they helped me get the stroller up the stairs at the expo. There was an elevator but it was way off to the side and could have made me lose my group if I went that route. That should have been my hint that this was not a child friendly expo. Now honestly, when I think about "Self Reliance" or "Survivalism" in the main stream context I STILL think about guns, ammo and Ruby Ridge. So I was expecting to see a lot of that there. It was actually noticeably absent. There was a handcart upon entering and a booth from Napa Auto Parts. They weren't together. Further down the entry way I began to see booths. Costco had a major booth outside the main expo area and they were promoting their heating and cooling folks. That seems bizarre to me at a self reliance expo when they could have been stockpiles at affordable prices or whatever they wanted their tagline to be. Inside there were probably 4 rows of vendors plus some end caps. There also appeared to be a stage where programs would be held throughout the day. They called them workshops and demonstrations but at least on Saturday in the morning it didn't feel that way. Which, by the way, who has an expo on a Friday and Saturday instead of a Saturday and Sunday? The workshops and demonstrations included things that felt forced to me like "Grant writing" and "Picking stocks". Later in the day there were things like "The Art of cooking with the sun" and "Sprouting Food Storage" which I thought would be valuable but it look less than an hour to get through the vendor booths as best as I could and then what was I supposed to do until the 1:30pm workshop of "Picking the perfect grain mill"? Navigating with a stroller was tough. I've been to some crowded craft fairs in my day and I wouldn't say this was crowded but for some reason this crowd didn't seem particularly child friendly or stroller friendly. I felt like my stroller was constantly in the way or blocking a booth which meant either I couldn't get close to it or others couldn't. Even vendors who had people out in the aisles didn't approach me as a way to minimize that hassle for themselves or their booths. I saw some children there, not a lot but some and I wasn't the only stroller there but honestly wished I either had not brought the child or had not brought the stroller and instead had opted for a backpack or something. There were a LOT of food storage vendors. Thrive had free samples out including fruit and corn of the freeze dried variety. I tried both, both were good. But I had to fight my way in and fight my way out despite a multitude it seemed of reps at that booth. They did not really talk to me. Ready Colorado talked to me and had coloring books for kids as well as a TON of information and a nifty pack to hang on your fridge to put emergency information inside of in case EMTs come to the house or people within the house don't know all of the medical needs others may have. Also they had some information on prepping for pets which I haven't read yet. They talked to me. There were a couple of cars there demonstrating (I think) electric cars. I ignored them. The Sun Oven folks were there and I felt like they had a nice booth and a lot of information. I lusted after a Sun Oven but $250 is still slightly out of my price range. There was one gun vendor which suited me fine but surprised me. I would have expected more. There was a "laundry kit"at one both that I ALMOST bought but couldn't quite stomach the $50 for a 5 gallon bucket, clothes line, clothes pins, some ingredients for soap and a plunger. I have plans to put that together and see what the true cost comes out to. I'll keep you updated. Overall I felt like the expo was Meh. Overpriced parking and if I had paid to get in I would have been more irritated. I'm not sure who they were pitching to, I'm not sure if they knew either. In the future I would have certainly including more child items either from the vendors or within the expo itself (like a place for kids to run around). I'll give it a C. I might go back if it comes back this way but I wont sob if my pillow if it doesn't.


Kris said...

Sorry for your bad experience :( But I have to say you've made me glad I didn't come up there for the expo, as I had considered doing just that. Part of the reason I decided not to was because of the Friday/Saturday thing. That's just weird, isn't it?

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