I Attended the Historic 2019 Porcupine Freedom Festival + Forkfest

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The New Hampshire Freedom Festivals!

This year, after a four-year absence, I returned as an attendee to the Porcupine Freedom Festival, aka Porcfest. I’m happy to say that Porcfest 2019 was a success and even featured some history-making civil disobedience. More on that in a moment. First, kudos to Rodger and Jessica Paxton and their crew for throwing an excellent festival – in spite of the now-expected political bungling by the Free State Project‘s board of directors. Longtime Porcfest attendee, and Free Keene blogger Rich Paul had this to say:

The tension that has subdued Porcfest for the last few years is finally healed. It feels like 2012 again.

Before I continue my review of the event, a little background:

After its rise to being one of the most well-attended libertarian gatherings on the planet and also becoming the most cryptocurrency-welcoming event as far as its vendors are concerned, the Porcupine Freedom Festival, which is organized each year by volunteers, but ultimately controlled by the Free State Project corporation, ended up making a few key errors. Yes, it was a mistake for them to kick me and my radio show out after a few volunteers made a stink back in 2016, but I don’t hold a grudge, and at the time even published a blog encouraging people to continue attending Porcfest.

That’s one of the more obvious mistakes they made, as despite my urging of people to continue to attend, attendance did drop sharply the following year, from what I have been told. However, the other things they botched were even more damaging to the event.

For years, and from before they decided to ban me, people who’ve attended the Porcupine Freedom Festival each Summer in Northern New Hampshire have complained that its recent years have been lacking in fun, partially due to an ever-increasing burden of rules at the event and centralized decision making on the part of the Free State Project’s board of directors. For instance, longtime vendors felt pushed out of the “Agora Valley” prime trading zone by the artificial extra costs imposed by the FSP onto the RV campsites in that area.

Nearly Empty Agora Valley @ Porcfest 2019

Nearly Empty Agora Valley @ Porcfest 2019

Where did these artificial costs come from? The story of Agora Valley is one that libertarians should know well and should have seen coming, but the libertarians running the FSP failed to see it and fell into the same centralized control trap they typically argue against. In the earlier years of the Porcupine Freedom Festival at Roger’s Campground, the first few rows of the RV camping area became, through natural market functions, the most desirable real estate in the park. The reason is that all the major speakers and events are held at the Pavilion at the bottom of the hill, so most campers will pass through that part of the RV area on their way to attend Porcfest’s various events. Eventually the zone was dubbed “Agora Valley” and vendors would compete to reserve the prime spots first for the upcoming year’s event, however the cost to the vendors at the time was the normal lot fee charged by the campground.

Eventually, someone at the FSP got the bright idea that Agora Valley should be managed by the FSP’s festival organizers, and a vendor’s fee and agreement was created. When asked, the FSP’s representatives generally will defend the fees as reasonable, since they include a ticket to the event, promotion to the event’s VIPs, as well as a listing in the event’s “Whova” event program app, for a very small premium on top. They are right – the Agora Valley vendor prices are reasonable. However, the market is clearly speaking, more this year than ever before, that the fees and rules are not welcome.

One way the marketplace responded to the failures of Porcfest’s central planning was to fork the entire event back in 2017 and create a decentralized libertarian camping festival called Forkfest, which just finished its third year. Click here to read more about the creation of the alternative, yet friendly event.

However the other way the market responded during this year’s Porcupine Freedom Festival, was the creation of the “Where it’s at” zone deeper in the RV area. Longtime Porcfest vendors and attendees, fed up with paying more than they had to or simply frustrated by the restrictions for Agora Valley, decided to opt-out and setup a hot zone of economic activity in the RV rows past the Valley’s “jurisdiction”. This mass exodus left Agora Valley nearly a ghost town at this year’s Porcfest.

To be fair, according to Shawn Grissom, this year’s Porcfest vendor coordinator, there were vendors in the lonely Agora Valley that did very well this year. That said, even Grissom agreed the FSP should let go of trying to organize the campground and focus on their event production alone. Let the market self-organize again in the camp/RV area.

Heroic Open-Air Drug Market at Porcfest 2019

Heroic Open-Air Drug Market at Porcfest 2019

Aside from the centrally-planned failure of Agora Valley, the rest of the 2019 Porcupine Freedom Festival went off well and received rave reviews. The Paxtons did a great job of bringing balance back to where Porcfest wasn’t just a family vacation spot – with approximately 200 kids and teenagers in attendance – but also a great party. This year there was a naked guy down at the campfire at night on at least a couple of occasions that I saw, along with a topless young lady, plus an amazing open-air drug market.

During the final night’s Free Ross auction to benefit imprisoned liberty hero and founder of the Silk Road underground market, Ross Ulbricht, there were two vendors set up just outside on a couple of picnic tables right next to each other. One vendor offered items for sale on a whiteboard such as “not mushrooms” and “not pot” while the other seller’s blackboard offered shrooms, flower, and edibles. It even included a shout-out to #freeross.

The little things like that made this year’s Porcfest feel like Porcfests of the past, but what made this year’s Porcupine Freedom Festival historic was what happened at the end of the Free Ross auction. After two hours and well over $10,000 had been raised from bidders on dozens of donated items, two activists donated a couple of eighth-of-an-ounce containers of cannabis to the remaining auction items. The auction was run by Mancamp founder Jay Noone and since he doesn’t have a auctioneer’s license, the entire event was civil disobedience. Noone then made Porcfest and likely New Hampshire history by auctioning off the cannabis to two lucky winners including me and the his assistant, Angie. What fun!

The vibe was positive and everyone I talked to was reporting having a good time. Even those attendees who were somewhat jaded by the event’s shift in recent years were impressed with this year’s event. They commented that even the long-criticized security volunteers known as “Porc Rangers” seemed more hands-off this time out. I was welcomed back by some of the very same board members who voted to ban me from the event in 2016. Turns out, though it sounded like a permanent ban at the time, the ban was only for one year. Rodger Paxton, when he was part of the FSP’s board, examined the meeting minutes of the meeting where the ban vote was held and learned that it was just a yearlong suspension. As long as I have a ticket, I’m allowed to be at the Porcupine Freedom Festival. So, this year I took off a week from work and attended the festival without the responsibility of having to host a talk radio show every day from the campground.

I’m glad I did. It was a pleasure to see the Porcupine Freedom Festival have a great year and also see Forkfest as the top sponsor of the event. Thanks to Chris Waid from Freedom Decrypted for putting forward the sponsorship, which is how I got the Porcfest ticket. Of course, despite having no responsibility to do a radio show, I did opt to record a few of the excellent presentations including a crypto panel, speech by Lyn Ulbricht, the Free Ross auction, Jeffrey Tucker’s speech, Mark Edge’s speech, and a ladies social media panel. I’ll work on releasing those over the coming weeks, so be sure to subscribe to the Free Keene YouTube channel.

Pirates’ Big Gay Somalian Road Builders Disco @ Forkfest 2019

Pirates’ Big Gay Somalian Road Builders Disco 2019 @ Forkfest 2019

Another thing that had Porcfesters buzzing was the fact that this year’s top sponsor of the event was Forkfest, the decentralized event that sprung from the Porcupine Freedom Festival. This year, as it had in the prior two years, Forkfest occurred the five days prior to Porcfest. Since the event is decentralized, there are no organizers, which means there are no tickets, so there’s no real solid way to get an idea of how many people attended. That said, the people I talked to who had been to Forkfest 2018 and 2019 said we tripled 2018’s numbers and that it felt like there were a few hundred people there at its peak on Sunday night.

It was interesting that Forkfest’s energy peaked on Sunday night rather than Monday night, which was its final night. After the final, epic dance party thrown by Anypay‘s Derrick J Freeman and Steven Zeiler called the “Pirates’ Big Gay Somalian Road Builders Disco”, the rest of the campground on Monday night felt subdued compared to Sunday night, which we speculated was due to the Monday arrival of many Porcfest elements such as the “Porc Rangers” putting up signs containing Porcfest rules all around the campground. The transition had begun.

Next year however, many Forkfesters will be holding Forkfest after the Porcupine Freedom Festival, so the transition will be in reverse. Plus, Forkfest 2020 is expected to expand to seven days instead of five. There were multiple people at Porcfest who expressed an interest in attending Forkfest next year, as they understandably felt like they missed out this year. Dates for Porcfest and Forkfest have yet to be announced, so please follow the Free Keene blog for the latest news about the New Hampshire Freedom Festivals for 2020.

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22 Comments

  1. I’m sure the park will smell like marijuana, sex, and shame for a long time to come.

  2. Had a blast!

  3. Much like your own bed at home, eh Jacks? Minus the sex part of course. We all know you aren’t getting any.

  4. Actually because of the plethora of terpene combinations found in marijuana, often marijuana smells are varied. However if your sex smells like skunk, you could be doing it wrong.

  5. I’m glad you’re welcome at PorcFest again, Ian. That ban really was a big mistake by the Free State Project board, and based on your description here I agree with you on the Agora Valley situation as well. If organizers have come around on both issues, and realized PorcFest should be more decentralized and rules-free, that’s very good to hear. Ditto on the apparent improvement in the volunteer “Porc Rangers” approach, though for that to have ever become an issue in the first place is troubling. Do you think any fundamental lessons were learned regarding what caused this tilt in the direction of more heavy-handed authority and how to avoid similar issues arising in the future?

  6. Marijuana & sex smells like Pride, not shame. Long live the Big Gay disco events! ;-P Would love to hear the story behind the Somalian Road Builders name, btw – has the road project in northern Somalia been revived, or was this a reference to past history?

  7. So it’s not enough that some daring individuals offer contraband for sale? Ian thinks it’s a good idea to post the fact to Twitter and the world.
    The definition of uncool.

  8. I have been wanting to go to Porcfest, and the NH Liberty Forum, for many years, but I have thus far not made it. I am usually working, and far away, when Porcfest is happening, as was the case again this year.

    I heard that Christopher Cantwell showed up to either Forkfest, or after Porcfest ended and people were in the process of leaving, and that Ian was walking around the campground with him. That must have been a hoot.

    I am glad that Ian is no longer banned from Porcfest. I was skeptical that he was ever guilty of anything from the beginning, and it has been almost 4 years since the government raided the Free Talk Live studios and seized their computers. Since the government has had almost 4 years to prosecute Ian, yet they have not even charged him with anything, which to me indicates that they know they do not have anything on him. This was likely a politically motivated attack. They should return Ian’s computers and issue him an apology. They should probably pay him a settlement for staging a raid on a false pretense and attempring to maliciously prosecute him.

    I really need to make it to New Hampshire so I can hang out with the Free Staters. I have been to New Hampshire a few times, but they were just in passing. Maybe I will move there at some point.

  9. Its sort of weird that Ian would call PF historical just because Ian’s allowed back. . the articles to long. . like most articles. .i know there’s tons of words ,saying it isn’t historical becud Ian being allowed back on the premises ON A PROBATIONARY BASIS BASED ON GOOD BEHAVIOR. . BUT . .. im using hakums razor to cut through the massive amounts of obfuscatory clutter and cut to the heart of the matter aka he’s full of it. ..

  10. i would read it if it wasn’t so long. .i don’t think it says why he’s allowed back or by who it was granted or whatever. .

  11. it says everything but what it should say. . who let Ian back?.. .i guess he’s too chicken to Divulge the only thing people really care aboot. .. Who was the king of pf that bestowest upon Ian entry to the gate of PF. . we know he’s been groveling every since being booted. .i know i sound mean.. .id hold a grudge if i was him. .he probably does.. .pf is eternally lessened by what they did.. they should hold a event there.. . asking his forgiveness.. whether he wants the event or not. ..

  12. ok … i blabbed.. it’s good Ian gets to go back.. it’s probably because of Roger Paxton

  13. Ian whining about Agora Valley getting free marketed by the FSP is hilarious.

  14. Hey Susan. Drac here. So the word around the watering hole is that you’re a paid writer of sorts. Is that really true, sweetie? Because I’d like to share some sentiments with you. I promise I’ll keep it short.

    Now forgive me for saying, but I’m guessing that this writing gig of yours doesn’t really pay very well, now does it? Because I seem to remember a few years back you had to beg the generous people on the internet for money to pay your medical bills, now didn’t you? A number of Free Staters (including Ian) even chipped in to help. But you never thanked any of them, now did you? i guess being you means never having to say thank you, eh Susan?

    Imagine! Your political rivals sacrificed their own scarce means to help you out of a jam, and you couldn’t even bother to thank them for their generosity? Deplorable behavior, don’t you think?

  15. Hey, Drac – When I show up here, I use my real name. When you are a big enough boy to give your real name, I may display some interest in your sniveling. Till then – you’re just another anonymous FSP douche.

  16. My goodness Susan, this real name stuff is always certain to throw you into a a tizzy, isn’t it? Say, it’s not because you’re having a little trouble doxxing me, now is it? I know how much you leftist types are consumed with the idea of causing injury to your political rivals by making them unemployable and living in the streets. Such dreadful conduct, don’t you think?

    Anyway Susie Bear, in spite of what you think about me, I still hope that one day you can put aside your self-righteous anger and bitterness and finally thank Ian and his friends for being so generous with their money. After all, being you really shouldn’t mean never having to show those you have a grudge against a little bit of gratitude, now should it sweetie pie?

  17. Hey, DracOff – I’m your “political rival?” Thanks for owning up to the fact that Free Staters really ARE radical right Republicans!

    I knew it!

  18. Now, now Susie Bear, do try and think about what you’re saying here. if Ian and his friends are the radical, right-wing ninnymuggins you think they are, then why would they donate a single penny to a dyed-in-the-wool, New England commie like yourself? That seems a tad self-defeating, don’t you think?

    Anyway dear, whatever you may think of Ian’s politics, it sure is pretty disgraceful that you’re so completely incapable of showing a little gratitude for once. Why not give him and his friends their due? Especially after all they’ve done for you! You’re better than this, aren’t you?

    So how about a nice “Thank You?” You can even celebrate the good deed afterwards. Maybe throw a few concrete milkshakes at some nazis or something! Whaddaya say, honey bunny? Care to swallow your pride?

  19. Hey, Dracoff – That faux gay lingo thing you do is increasingly dull witted. Your attempt to divert is also a dull libertea boy tactic. Since you insist on answering for Ian, I’m going to assume that you are Ian. If you aren’t, you certainly have your tongue firmly lodged in his anus.

    Back to the original point, AnalSwab – tell me how worshippers at the altar of the Free Market can be so upset about the free marketization of Agora Valley? Isn’t that capitalism in action? Shouldn’t you all be applauding that?

  20. Ah Susie Bear, you’re such a pistol! But I see good manners are a cut above what you’re used to in the circles you run around in! I’d urge you to try them out one of these days, though – if you have the courage. You’d be surprised at how helpful they can be in a pinch!

    Anyway Susan, regarding your accusations on the matter of the AV, Ian was clearly pointing out that free-market principles were working out exactly the way they always do. I’m confused as to how you misread that. You’re a paid writer, after all. Still, I can how you might have misunderstood Ian’s sentiments. You bitter, old Mensheviks tend to view the world rather savagely, now don’t you? So what do you think the vendors should have done? I’ll bet it involves masks and milkshakes.

  21. Oh, Dracoff – it’s a treat to be lectured on manners by a guy who uses the kind of faux florid language he imagines gay men might use, because…why? You think it’s clever, somehow? You’re so very wrong about that.

    You forgot yourself for a minute though, in the second paragraph when you used my first name instead of some dopey, diminutive nickname. Tut, tut, Ianoff.

    Here’s the thing – I don’t care what the vendors do, DracIan. I suspect this is the last time you’ll experience PorcFest at the campground in Lancaster. No more overflowing septic, no more tents, no more “Agora Valley.” It’s more likely that the next PorcFest will be in a far more expensive and luxurious venue. You poor lambs out in Keene don’t understand that the days of FSP dirty hippies are over. The new, corporate Free State Project is interested in attracting people with money.

    They don’t want more Rich Pauls, more Ians, more Chris Cantwells. No more embarrassing arrest records, no more talk of schtupping kiddies, or child pornography, and no more openly declared white nationalism. No more chalking sidewalks, or robin hoodlums. You aren’t what they want to recruit.

    Most of you chumps won’t be able to afford PorcFest next year.

  22. And you forgot to share another barb involving human rectal cavities. I think that makes us even, muffin.

    Boy, aren’t we just having the best time, Susan? Two old friends shooting the breeze without a care in the world! It’s so refreshing!

    Anyway, since I’ve got your ear for the moment, I’ve been meaning to ask you: now that that much-heralded progressive wave has suddenly crested and crashed before it could even reach the shore, do you think it might start getting even more difficult for you to make a good living as a paid writer? If so, you might want to consider accepting bitcoins in that tip jar of yours. They’ve been doing pretty well lately – assuming you haven’t already heard. Then you can buy yourself some pretty, new dresses and throw out those awful cardigans and old-lady pants you’re always wearing! Wouldn’t that be nice?

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