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
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.
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
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! (more…)
For the third year in a row, local cryptocurrency users in the Crypto Mecca of Keene, NH gathered at local crypto-accepting pizza joint, “Little Zoe’s” to celebrate Bitcoin Pizza Day. The annual celebration, set on May 22nd, commemorates what is regarded as the first real-life cryptocurrency purchase in 2010, when Laszlo Hanyecz purchased two pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoin (BTC). This year, the holiday was covered by 60 Minutes.
In Keene, a bunch of people gathered from as far as Amherst, MA and Brattleboro, VT to celebrate with delicious pies from Little Zoe’s Pizza in Keene, NH where for years owners Ed and Melanie Forster have offered take-and-bake pies of excellent quality. This year, Little Zoe’s acquired an oven for their store and are now offering their pizzas hot, with outdoor seating as the seasons allow.
Crypto users gathered at Little Zoe’s Pizza in Keene for Bitcoin Pizza Day 2019.
Today was a perfect day with warm weather and plenty of sunlight for the various crypto fans, old and new, who gathered together in celebration of a form of money that eliminates governments and banks from the picture and delivers a useful, secure form of international money that does what it promises. Cryptocurrency allows value to be sent securely and near-instantaneously, across the globe or right next door, for next to zero fees.
In addition to being useful for sending value globally, cryptocurrency is also attractive to local mom & pop business owners. That’s because with cryptocurrencies, the customer pays the very small fee to send their crypto to the business. This is the reverse of a credit card transaction where the business pays a typically 3% fee, out of their profits for each transaction. In contrast, that means that when accepting cryptocurrency, the business keeps 100% of the sale.
Do you take the road less traveled?
Unfortunately, due to a disagreement among Bitcoin programmers, a “hard fork” or schism happened in August of 2017 that resulted in there becoming two competing “bitcoin” – Bitcoin (BTC) vs Bitcoin Cash (BCH). By that point in time, there were already thousands of would-be competitors to Bitcoin, like DASH, Monero, and others. Because Bitcoin (BTC)’s programmers failed to fix the problems with BTC’s escalating network transaction fees, the competitors were able to successfully offer drastically lower cost alternatives, right on time, when the market most needed alternatives.
Enter Anypay.global, a Point-Of-Sale crypto payments processor that also launched in August 2017 and is based in nearby Portsmouth, NH and co-founded by longtime Keene activist and Free Keene blogger, Derrick J Freeman. Anypay wisely launched offering two options for local businesses to easily accept cryptocurrency at the point-of-sale: Bitcoin (BTC) and DASH. Local businesses who were already accepting BTC were eager to adopt DASH as a lower-fee alternative, because it was the right option for their customers, as DASH’s sending fees are usually less than $0.01 worth of DASH, whereas today’s Bitcoin (BTC) fees can be as high as over $2.00 worth of BTC.
Since then, even more local businesses have begun accepting cryptocurrency including DASH aka “Digital Cash”, BTC, and the newer competitor to BTC, Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Most local businesses accept all three, thanks to the Anypay app, which has expanded to allow business owners to accept multiple cryptos including even Ripple (XRP), Dogecoin (DOGE), Horizen (ZEN), Smartcash (SMART), and a privacy coin called ZCash (ZEC).
Thanks to Anypay, people paying in DASH or Bitcoin Cash at local merchants like Little Zoe’s are able to receive 10% back into their wallet, near-instantaneously. Last year, Anypay launched a promotional feature called “DASH-Back“, which provided DASH-paying customers with a 10% instant rebate along with a DASH-bonus to the business owner. As Anypay’s public charts reveal, the program continues to pay out, with over 52 DASH given out over the course of the program. That’s over $7,900 worth of DASH at today’s DASH price, approx $152.
Recently, Anypay quietly activated “Bitcoin Cash-Back” or “BCH-Back”, which also offers a 10% instant rebate to any customer paying with BCH. From observing customers at recent meetups happening every six days in the Keene area, it appears that DASH and BCH are the clear kings of retail crypto use here in the Crypto Mecca. I discussed the situation here in greater detail on the recent episode of Dash Force News, where I compared the local crypto scene here in the Shire to the scene in Tokyo, another world-capital for crypto-acceptance-and-use:
Those in New Hampshire have been at the vanguard of cryptocurrency penetration since the creation of Bitcoin a decade ago. From developers who have constructed crypto ATMs, payment solutions, and digital marketplaces to entrepreneurs who made it easier to buy and sell of cryptocurrency, to early-adopters who have informed their friends, family and neighbors about the empowering aspects of being ones own bank. It’s no surprise then that Amanda B. Johnson — a one-time resident of the ‘shire — makes mention of this special place in her recent video recounting Dash-accepting merchants worldwide.