Doomsday Preppers Will Descend on Denver for Self-Reliance Expo

Attendees at the Self-Reliance Expo in Mesquite, Texas, earlier this year.
Attendees at the Self-Reliance Expo in Mesquite, Texas, earlier this year. National Self Reliance Project
If you're ready to get your doomsday prep on (or maybe you're just interested in vertical gardening and beekeeping?), the National Self-Reliance Project is bringing the Self-Reliance & Simple Life Experience to the National Western Complex September 22 and 23.

Eighty exhibitors focused on self-reliance, survival and sustainability will attend, as will twenty speakers from organizations like the Denver Office of Emergency Management, the Red Cross and Fortitude Ranch, a survival community with a location in Colorado Springs that is "equipped to survive any type of disaster and long-term loss of law and order," according to its website.

Much of "doomsday prep" these days is focused on sustainability and basic disaster awareness. The prepping community has become a more mainstream movement since the sensational Doomsday Preppers made its debut on the National Geographic channel in 2011, says Kiki Bandilla, a Coloradan and the CEO of the National Self-Reliance Project.

"This is about just being smart," Bandilla says. "It's a return to what our natural instincts are. That's really what we're trying to do, teach [people] what the term 'self-reliance' means. It doesn't mean you're nuts or negative or crazy people doing crazy things."

Natural disasters seem to be getting more extreme and frequent (see: Hurricane Florence) and it's not rare for the president to threaten war with various countries via his Twitter account. That's led more people to think about what they might do in an extreme survival situation, Bandilla says.

"I feel like we have become numbed a little bit with all of the busy-ness and modern luxuries, as they can be a little bit of a double-edged sword," she explains. "We get away from our innate skills and resources and judgment to make sure that we have the necessary skills and wherewithal to get through our days and not be so dependent upon the grid or our computers."

Besides the fact that Bandilla lives in nearby Castle Rock, she says Denver is a natural fit for a prepper expo, with an abundance of outdoor enthusiasts and Denver's sometimes extreme weather. (Littleton even has its own store, R.F. Bunker, dedicated to disaster preparedness.) The organization hosted a similar event in Mesquite, Texas, in March.

Roughly 2,500 are expected to attend the expo, Bandilla says. Tickets are on sale now. 
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Paige Yowell joined Westword as a staff writer in 2018. Born and raised in Nebraska, she previously worked as a business reporter for the Omaha World-Herald.
Contact: Paige Yowell