Porc Fest '05 - Chris Lopez
Report on Porc Fest '05
by Chris Lopez
Here is a little bit of an idea of what Porc Fest '05 was like as seen through the eyes of Chris Lopez.
We arrived in Lancaster about 7 pm on Thursday. There was still plenty of light & I was able to snap off a few pictures of the mountains and a few attendees. Dawn Lincoln was heading up the registration camper & had it down to a science by the time we got there. Many people had been there since the previous Saturday, but most people showed up for the Friday & Saturday events. There were a few neat items for sale with the FSP logo on them & I was quick to pick up a t-shirt & bumper sticker. The golf shirts sold out by Friday, but I hear there are still quite a few that can be ordered on-line. Probably the cutest item available was the porcupine planter.
From there Seth & I ventured forth to meet & greet some other campers. It didn't take Seth long to start up a conversation near the registration area. Jean & Neil had their bus parked next door and, as they say, that was that. I however couldn't sit still for too long at any one spot throughout the festival & soon found Kat, Kira & Russell's campsite. Oh yeah, they also had food! They had quite the crowd there that first evening of mine, but I did overhear that it definitely wasn't the first party of the week. I met Estelle who was the most recent mover & found her story of luck & fortune very hope filled. John brought his guitar along & sang his Porcupine Anthem. It brought JP to tears & gives us all something to think about.
Friday morning started out nice & brisk & we went on down to the cafe. It was filled with hungry campers, so we made conversation while waiting for our food. The hikers all gathered together & it looked as though it was going to be a great day. At 10 am, I enjoyed the presentation by Don Gorman of the NHLA. He was very spirited & he let us know how easy it can be to effect change in the State House of New Hampshire. I know this from first hand experience because I have been to the State House several times with Don & the NHLA. It is very open and lobbying for a specific bill of interest is as easy as standing up and stating your case. Basically. Here's a little article that I wrote for the NHLA about that.
For the next few hours I had the privilege of helping out at the registration camper. I really enjoyed meeting new people and answering whatever questions I could. Probably the most fun, though, was just plain socializing.
At 2:30 that afternoon many of us gathered in the main hall again for the "breaking the chains" ceremony. It was very dramatic and symbolic of our victory over the "oppression of the state." (grin) Our Vice President & new mover Evan Nappen brought in both small & large chain along with a 2 sets of bolt cutters. Each one of us that had made the move in the last year came up front, broke our chain & told the audience a little bit about our moving experience. The grand finale culminated in our lifting our chains high with a loud "Hurray!"
Soon after was our Porcupine family dinner. I was the one collecting tickets :) The food was good, but I think the highlight here was definitely the conversations that sprang up between the movers and those who had not quite decided. Seth & I met some great people & I was able to tell them a little bit about what I have been doing in the short time that I've been here.
From here were the Poker Face concert and various evening events. Seth & I danced to the rock & roll music & it made me want to grab my guitar and play. My room was next door to the polyamory party, so I stopped in to say hello. It was a very small group of people who were nice and polite. I looked through the collection of buttons that were displayed & expressed interest in one that stated "Civil marriage is a civil right." After all, Seth & I have never needed the state to tell us that we are married to each other. After playing a couple of songs there, I brought my guitar over to Joel & Amy's camp site & hung out for a while. We played cards and had some fun, but soon the night was over & it was time for some rest.
Poker Face performs
Saturday morning started off pretty early (for me) and I went to help with the FSP and Liberty Ladies tables. From the tables we could see & hear the presentations in the main hall, so I didn't feel like I was missing too much. The morning really flew by with all the activity around the exhibit tables. There were so many interesting groups and people asking & answering questions, that it was all very exciting. I was even presented with the pin that I had admired so much the night before.
It's funny, when I look back on it all, that I really do know a lot of people here. I've been here less than a year & I already have so many friends and acquaintances. I don't share every interest with all people, but I recognize faces & am actually remembering some peoples' names! I had friends at the NHLA table, the Liberty Scholarship table, the Objectivist table, the Liberty Ladies table, the Libertarian table, and the GONH people. That's a lot for a girl that moved out from Oregon & wasn't really sure about the whole thing a year and a half ago.
I believe that this morning and most of the afternoon were very productive in helping people gain more of an understanding of who we are and what we are doing here in NH. It was more than selling t-shirts and promoting our particular brand of philosophy. Here we were able to ask and answer questions that I believe are important to people that have not quite decided to move. There were also some presentations that I did not attend, therefore, I will not review them.
As soon as the volunteers were properly recognized, Seth & I were off to Plymouth for the NHLA Liberty Dinner. We first made our way to the VIP social and had some delicious hors d'oeuvres with Congressman Ron Paul and others. It was very small and quaint, but a nice little get together after all.
NHLA Liberty Dinner
When we got to the college, the line to get in was pretty long, so I tried to help out as much as I could with the registration process. Dawn Lincoln was definitely the hero there. Our Liberty Ladies booth was one of several in the lobby during the reception. It was a little crowded, but as soon as the program started we had plenty of room.
After dinner the program began with Jack Cole from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.) I thought it was a very interesting presentation about how the war against drugs just isn't working. Mr. Cole gave us some statistics as well as his own personal history in law enforcement. He's seen first hand how this war has not kept people from buying drugs, in fact the number of people addicted has stayed constant while the number incarcerated has risen. The specific piece that I found most interesting is that some countries that don't have prohibition also offer assistance to those who want to get off drugs. They actually give them a choice, drugs or life without drugs, instead of "Just Say No!." Hmm.
Chris Lopez and Jack Cole (LEAP)
Next it was Don Gorman's turn as Political Director of the NHLA to hand out the Legislature of the Year Award. This award went to Clifford Newton from the Strafford District with a 92.59% Liberty Rating. There were a few other legislatures to acknowledge, including Sheldon Sawyer from Cheshire county, Bea Francoeur and David Buhlman from Hillsborough county, Richard Marple from Merrimack county & Paul Ingbretson from Grafton county. FYI, all 6 legislators are Republicans.
Last but not least for the evening we heard Congressman Ron Paul speak of his experiences in Congress. Apparently we went over our alloted time in the hall and the air conditioning shut off. Unfortunately, I can't elaborate about his speech, as he touched on so many things.
So now we headed back to Rogers and the Saturday night camp fires. Seth & I brought our glow sticks and sparklers to the Circle of Liberty. It was a pretty big crowd and people were taking turns holding the 'big stick' and telling stories. We didn't stay long, but headed up to the Irregularly Shaped Polygon of Non-Conformity. We stayed for a few hours and played guitar, sang, ate snacks & talked, talked, talked. It was a nice way to end our adventures at Porc Fest '05 with friends and new acquaintances.
The next morning we said our goodbyes and even had brunch with some other porcupines. It was also our first anniversary, so Seth & I drove around the state and found a waterfall and other neat sights to see. We had dinner in North Conway at a good Thai restaurant and then headed home. It was a great adventure and I can't wait for next year!