It is a calm Saturday morning in Holton, Kan., the kind of day it seems like there’s nothing to worry about. But, to the people at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, there is always something to prepare for.
Inside the slightly downtrodden building are enough supplies, guns, knives and more to last through almost any natural disaster. The supplies and weapons are on display for the Kansas Prepper Expo.
The space is full of over 90 vendors, with gun-toting attendees to match. The building hosts a maze of tables with water purifiers, food supplies, medical equipment and more. There is even a representative from the Kansas Libertarian party. While there are enough guns on display that one could easily confuse the event for a gun show, there is also a cornucopia of non-weapon- based survival goods.
Peter Rafferty is the president of the Kansas Preppers Expo and a gun vendor at the show. He said that the show was not just for preppers, but was open to the public.
“It’s for everyone…people that have been in the prepping style for several years, people who are looking to get into it or people who just want to find out what its all about,” he said.
Rafferty said that, despite the name, not all preppers are waiting solely for doomsday. He shrugged off the implication that prepping is an excuse for more guns.
“Guns are just a small aspect of prepping,” Rafferty said. “We always tell people ‘food, water, shelter’ — the three things you have to get squared away.”
Prepping can involve more than just purchasing goods. In dire situations, one may have to rely on survival skills. Some of the vendors attempt to assist with this by teaching survival courses. Dave Carlson is with Blackthorn-USA, which does just that.
“We teach wilderness survival, bushcraft and preparedness in general,” Carlson said. “Everything from making fire with sticks… all the way up to modern things like water filters and camp stoves.”
Fredd Searcy is a vendor at the show. He sells knives, tasers and more. He said that, at the end of the day, the expo is a way to gather with those who share similar views and promote common sense.
“There’s no more common sense,” Searcy said. “If you do find it, it is in a small pocket of friends like here today where like-minded people gather to share knowledge and hopefully gain a little insight on each other, and network into a community where we can become self-reliant.”