The New Castle Record

New Castle prepares to be prepared

NEW CASTLE – Prepper’s Festival marketing director Jason Matyas is excited about downtown New Castle’s 2nd annual Prepper’s Festival this Saturday, April 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Matyas said he hopes this year will draw an even larger crowd than last year’s count of 5,000 people from all over the country to attend workshops, watch a Prepper’s Cook-off and see dozens of vendors selling everything from water purifiers to heirloom seeds and self-defense accessories to food storage items. He said last year’s festival garnered enthusiastic feedback, especially from those who traveled to New Castle from other states for the event.

Over 5,000 people attended New Castle's inaugural Prepper's Festival last year. - File photo
Over 5,000 people attended New Castle’s inaugural Prepper’s Festival last year. – File photo

“They all raved about how friendly the people were and how beautiful Craig County is,” he said. “It’s something that many locals can take for granted, but this really is a special place and a wonderful community.”

He added that one woman drove 4.5 hours from North Carolina, stating that she loved the drive, the people and all of the information that was readily available to her.

Those who attended a related class led by survivalist author and instructor Tim MacWelch at the Emporium in New Castle last month asserted that the country is much different than it was even 50 years ago, with fewer farmers and more people relying on grocery stores for all of their food. People recalled that in previous years cellars were often stocked with rows of canned goods as well as freezers full of beef, pork, fish, chicken and venison.

“Nobody went hungry because you had everything you needed at your back door,” stated a local farmer. “If you didn’t have one thing, you traded your neighbor with what you did have for what you needed. Neighbors worked closely together back then.”

A “Prepper” is someone who is prepared or striving to be prepared for an incident, natural disaster or a situation that could affect the stability of his or her home, life or financial situation. This year, several speakers and workshops as well as supplies will be available all day at the Prepper’s Festival.

MacWelch, who is a New York Times Best Selling survival author and 20-year professional instructor, said he looks forward to returning to New Castle and speaking about Advanced Survival Training.

Reggie Bennett, a former U.S. Air Force Survival Instructor (SERE), Class of 1990-2002, will also be at the festival. During graduation from the USAF Survival Instructor School, he was presented four of five awards for outstanding performance. Extremely dedicated to providing students with excellent survival skills, his unrivaled passion and technical expertise make him one of the best survival instructors in the United States.

Josh Deel owns and operates Barefoot Farms & Permaculture in Craig County, as well as Sinking Creek Sawyers and Sustainable Design Solutions, LLC. Certified in permaculture design through Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute in Australia, Deel teaches permaculture as well as designs and installs whole human habitats from the small urban scale to broad acreage farm scale.

Besides organizing the annual Prepper’s Festival, Matyas is a husband and father of seven, lifelong gardener and the co-founder of the Beyond Off Grid project, a documentary film and media project devoted to inspiring and equipping folks to reduce their dependence on the modern system and seek true freedom by returning to the old paths of productive households and community interdependence.

Kendra Lynne is a home schooling mother of four, popular homesteading blogger, and star of the DVD “At Home Canning for Beginners and Beyond.” She will be teaching festivalgoers “beginner” canning.

Sara Muncy is a doTERRA Wellness Advocates manager, wife, photographer, business owner, and entrepreneur. Her passion to educate others about the power and simplicity of healthy living inspired her to pursue a deeper education about essential oils and how to harness the innate ability of plants to enhance physical, mental and emotional health.

“This event is perfect for anyone that wants to learn more about being prepared for the unexpected and how to become more self-reliant and able to take care of their family and neighbors, no matter what comes,” said Matyas.

“We are excited about the Prepper’s Festival next week!” stated Phil Spence, owner of The Emporium in downtown New Castle. “I really believe it is good for the town because it brings folks from out of town to visit us and all of the businesses will benefit from this. For The Emporium, it is one of our biggest sales days of the year.”

It takes several sponsors to make this large event happen in Craig. The primary sponsor is the local Craig County Business Association, along with the Beyond Off Grid Summit, SafeSide Tactical, The Emporium, Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing, Seeds for Generations and Uncle Scott’s Essential Oils. All of the above businesses will have booths or supplies and information available to visitors.

This year, the Craig County Business Association expects an even bigger turnout, and the event will include a wide array of preparedness, homesteading and survivalist-related vendors, local artisans, skill building workshops, product demos as well as the Top Chef-style Prepper’s Cook-Off. Additionally, live music will be provided throughout the day, and a raffle with a large grand prize will be held, as well as door prize giveaways throughout the day.

“This event is sure to be fun and very informative for all who attend!” said Matyas.

You can get full details about the event, including a list of the vendors, speakers, workshops and how to enter a giveaway of over $500 in preparedness gear, or enter a raffle for an AR-15 or pressure canner, at More information can also be found on Facebook on the Prepper Festival 2015 page.

– Pam Dudding-Burch

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