I Attended the Historic 2019 Porcupine Freedom Festival + Forkfest

Forkfest Sponsors Porcfest!

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! (more…)

Successful “Bitcoin Pizza Day” in Crypto Mecca – 2019

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.

Bitcoin Pizza Day 2019

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.

There’s a reason why Bitcoin (BTC) has grown over a decade from a value of $0, to this week as high as over $8,000 per BTC. This isn’t a fluke.

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.

Bitcoin Fork in Road

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:

If you’re new to cryptocurrency and want to learn more, sign up for the free “Bitcoin 101” class at the Bitcoin Embassy NH at 661 Marlboro St. in Keene. If you love freedom and crypto and don’t yet live in New Hampshire, you ought to seriously consider it.

“Pho Keene Great” Grand Opening: Photos & Review

The line outside prior to PKG's opening.

The line outside prior to PKG’s opening.

This afternoon at just before three, approximately 25 people were in line to be the first paying customers at the new Keene Vietnamese restaurant, “Pho Keene Great“. If you’re new to the Pho Keene Great story, here’s a recap of what happened with their viral showdown with the City of Keene’s Dragon. When the door was opened for the first time today, the initial customers were welcomed by the PKG crew, all wearing black uniforms including t-shirts and hats bearing the Pho Keene Great logo.

PKG’s bustling staff-on-duty numbered at least a dozen plus Chris Rietmann, the proprietor of Route 101 Local Goods, who was at the front at a table offering the hot-selling Pho Keene Great merchandise like t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers and the newest item – tote bags. Plus, each customer walking in was given a free limited-run “Live Pho or Die!” sticker in the shape of New Hampshire and featuring the PKG logo character.

If you aren’t able to come to Keene and still want your own Pho Keene Great gear, you can order it online with your credit card or cryptocurrency like bitcoin at Route 101 Local Goods.

Only a fraction of the busy crew on-duty at PKG.

Only a fraction of the busy crew on-duty at PKG.

After the initial group entered, more came in and by the time I left an hour later, not only was I full, but so was Pho Keene Great. Founder Isabelle Rose was seen in the kitchen, constantly active and focused on preparing the delicious food.

The guy sitting next to me at the bar, Matt, has spent most of his life running professional kitchens and he makes a habit of reviewing the restaurants he visits on Yelp. His review for Pho Keene Great was the first the restaurant had received and he left five stars and this review:

I was in line for the grand opening and was served second out of the group. I ordered their meatball pho.

Broth: simple, clear, delicate.
Noodles: perfect.
Meatballs: dense, perfect.

Route 101 Local Goods' Chris Rietmann talks to a happy customer.

Route 101 Local Goods’ Chris Rietmann talks to a happy customer.

Service: excellent, professional, well seasoned.I’ve been a part of at least 20 restaurant openings in my career and looking around at this one, I see very few foibles or parts that need polish. The food was barely too long in coming, but this is literally DAY ONE, HOUR ONE. I’m extremely impressed at how well out together and error-free this has been, and I can’t wait to come back. I’m so happy not only that there’s a pho place in town, but moreso that there’s a place in town with truly fantastic food and service in a restaurant that is perfectly suitable for everything from family dinners and celebrations to business dinners.

Southeast Asian food should tick all boxes when it comes to flavor in each bite. Pho Keene Great delivers on that necessity and does it in a classy but relaxed environment, and at a reasonable price. Definitely recommend.

The restaurant will initially be open at 3pm daily except Tuesdays and offer a limited dinner menu, though with a full bar and liquor license. They even have a beer on tap from Marlborough’s Frogg Brewing.

Later they are planning to expand Pho Keene Great to include lunch and take-out, but for now they’re keeping it simple to get the gears turning. The restaurant is located next door to City Hall at 11 Central Square in Keene, NH. Here are a few more photos I snapped of the grand opening: (more…)

Victorious “Pho Keene Great” Restaurant to Open @ 3pm Tomorrow, March 8th

Pho Keene Great Sign

Pho Keene Great – Opens Tomorrow March 8th at 3pm!

With less than one day before it opens its doors to the public, Pho Keene Great, the new Keene Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of downtown, has become a viral international news story after the new city manager, Elizabeth Dragon targeted the restaurant during the holidays for its “offensive and not appropriate” name.

Owner Isabelle Rose didn’t back down in the face of the city’s attempt to intimidate her and the media coverage quickly spread across the globe, with readers and viewers outraged at the oppressive, humorless “City of Keene”. Though the city manager had originally demanded Rose meet with her about the sign, the meeting never happened. Within three weeks of the original story breaking, the city people backed down and the “offensive” sign was approved and installed.

Thanks to the viral story, Pho Keene Great t-shirts, hats and bumper stickers have been selling fast at official vendor Route 101 Local Goods as people who do have a sense of humor wanted to show their support of the as-yet-unopened Vietnamese restaurant, from as far away as Australia and Afghanistan. Even celebrities like magician and comedian Penn Jillette got in on the fun.

Isabelle Rose, at her food truck in 2016.

Isabelle Rose, at her food truck in 2016.

All of this with most people never having had the food itself! I say most because many in the Keene area know exactly what to expect from Pho Keene Great when they open their doors to the public for the first time at 3pm tomorrow afternoon (Friday March 8th). Rose had in the last few years run her own Vietnamese pho food truck which had been located outside Route 101 Local Goods in Keene. The pho noodle soup was delicious and she accepted cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as payment!

Now with a newly renovated kitchen, stocked bar, and full staff behind her, Rose is ready to graduate from her successful dream of running her own food truck to the next level – running a sit-down restaurant. I’m excited to see this all coming together for her, and a lot of it is thanks to the bumbling City of Keene making itself look like petty tyrants on the world stage (again).

Here’s some recent media coverage featuring WCAX TV’s Galen Ettlin being given an exclusive look inside Pho Keene Great during construction in February. In the package, Rose explains the story behind the restaurant and takes the reporter on a tour:

Pho Keene Great is located at 11 Central Square in downtown Keene, New Hampshire, right next door to city hall.

Penn Jillette Models Pho Keene Great Shirt, Promises to Visit!

Magician and Comedian Penn Jillette Wearing Pho Keene Great Shirt!

Magician and Comedian Penn Jillette Wearing Pho Keene Great Shirt!

The Pho Keene Great victory over the dastardly City of Keene gang continues to reverberate throughout the world. Now, the already popular Pho Keene Great t-shirt is being modeled by magician and comedian Penn Jillette on his Twitter account, where he’s followed by over 1,840,000 people.

In another tweet, Jillette also promises he’ll be stopping in to Pho Keene Great, presumably when he next visits his nearby hometown of Greenfield, MA.

Long-time readers of Free Keene will remember when years ago Jillette expressed his desire to move here to Keene and join “with the Free Staters”. Looks like he has continued to pay attention.

Pho Keene Great t-shirts have been continuing to fly off the shelves at Route 101 Local Goods. Proprietor Chris Rietmann says orders continue to come in daily both online and in-person at 661 Marlboro St in Keene, NH. Plus, fans can now order Pho Keene Great hats and bumper stickers! Yes, you can pay with cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, DASH, and a bunch of other cryptos.

Pho Keene Great is expected to open its doors sometime in March, according to co-owner Isabelle Rose.

Ron Paul’s No Chicken – Speaks at Anarchapulco Despite Recent Murder

Ron Paul and Ian Freeman wearing a Pho Keene Great hat.

Ron Paul and Ian Freeman wearing a Pho Keene Great hat.

Hello from the second night of the fifth annual Anarchapulco in Acapulco, Mexico! It’s my third year broadcasting my talk show from the event, which I last year said had surpassed Porcfest as the must-attend annual liberty event.

Unfortunately, this year’s event received quite a bit of bad press in the couple weeks prior. A self-proclaimed anarchist, John Galton was shot to death. Galton had been living in the area after allegedly escaping prosecution for cannabis “crimes” by the US Federal gang. Despite the murder having nothing to do with Anarchapulco as Galton was co-organizer of a different and now-canceled event called Anarchaforko, Anarchapulco was targeted by the media anyway.

No one knows the real story behind the murder. Various theories abound. Was the murder an inside job, a cartel killing, or something else? Would Anarchapulco founder Jeff Berwick be gunned down during his own event? This had the liberty community buzzing away before Anarchapulco 2019 began. Would the speakers show up? Would the attendees? I even heard that some craven busybodies had been contacting speakers and encouraging them to cancel.

Anarchapulco 2019 Logo

Anarchapulco 2019 Logo

Turns out, the event is a major success, with excellent attendance, likely more than last year, which was a sellout. This year the organizers rented the entire resort and it seems to have been worth it. They’re already planning for 2020.

That said, it is likely some attendees chose to stay home due to fear. According to one participant, Anarchapulco tickets were allegedly being offered for sale before the event at a very low price on some facebook group. There was discussion by some over what, if any, extra security would be provided. This, despite no credible threat being made against the event.

It’s true that some speakers didn’t make it either, but that happens at any convention, especially one the size and complexity of Anarchapulco, where there are several stages operating simultaneously. It’s inevitable cancellations will occur. Shit happens.

The real test was Dr. Ron Paul, who was scheduled to speak this evening as the event keynote. If he didn’t show, I think the tone of the event would have shifted to depressed and negative from excited and positive.

Lyn Ulbricht chats with Ron Paul at Anarchapulco 2019

Lyn Ulbricht chats with Ron Paul at Anarchapulco 2019

Not only did Ron Paul show up and give a great, uplifting speech, he came in the front like a boss, rather than slipping in the back, and spent plenty of time with his fans on his leisurely pace to the main event stage. He stopped many times for long periods to chat and pose for photos. Afterwards, there was a special dinner with Dr. Paul and he hung around to spend even more time with regular event attendees both before and after the dinner, in different parts of the hotel. We just kept seeing him over and over posing with people for photos. It was great.

There’s a reason Ron Paul is a libertarian hero and people flock to see him speak. He has always stood for his beliefs, whether in D.C., Texas, or in Acapulco. He’s never backed down.

When some suggested we at Free Talk Live not attend at all and even my co-host Mark Edge proffered we hide away broadcasting in a green room, I said no way. I don’t live in fear. I’m glad and honored to have Ron Paul at my side – literally.

Thanks for coming to Anarchapulco 2019, Ron. You rock.