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Underground bunkers, tactical weapons and zombies: Hundreds of ‘Preppers’ learn how to combat the apocalypse at Utah expo

  • Hundreds of survivalists and ‘Preppers’ gathered in Utah suburb Friday
  • Learned new ways to deal with zombie apocalypse or a natural disaster
  • Shown underground bunkers, tactical weapons and armored vehicles
  • Taught how to store food and dressed as zombies for special contest
  • Also met actors from AMC hit show The Walking Dead, like Addy Miller
  • Scott Stallings, one of PrepperCon’s founders, said Utah made sense for the first expo because of the Mormon culture’s emphasis on self-reliance

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Sophie Jane Evans For Dailymail.com


Published:
20:52 EST, 26 April 2015

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Updated:
21:12 EST, 26 April 2015

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From underground bunkers and tactical weapons to heavily armored vehicles, they were taught new ways to deal with a zombie apocalypse or a natural disaster – and also met some TV stars.

Hundreds of survivalists and so-called ‘Preppers’, of all ages and levels of ‘experience’, descended on the Salt Lake City, Utah, suburb of Sandy on Friday for the nation’s first ever PrepperCon.

During the two-day expo, they were shown specially-equipped underground bunkers, learned new ways to store food, tried out solar powered flashlights – and even dressed up as zombies.

They were also greeted by actors from the AMC hit show ‘The Walking Dead’, including Addy Miller, who took pictures with fans and acted as a judge in an emergency preparedness food cook-off.

Hideout: Hundreds of survivalists and so-called 'Preppers' descended on the Salt Lake City, Utah, suburb of is pictured lylays on a bunk in a 100 per cent steel underground bunker during the PrepperCon expo

Hideout: Hundreds of survivalists and so-called ‘Preppers’ descended on the Salt Lake City, Utah, suburb of Sandy on Friday for the nation’s first ever PrepperCon. Above, Mike Peters, with Ultimate Bunker, is pictured lying on a bunk in a 100 per cent steel underground bunker at the event at the South Towne Expo Center

Tactical weapons: Niel Burnett, of Covers & Camo, clutches a gun as he demonstrates 'Prepper and tactical seat covers' during PrepperCon, which also featured actors from the AMC hit show 'The Walking Dead'

Tactical weapons: Niel Burnett, of Covers & Camo, clutches a gun as he demonstrates ‘Prepper and tactical seat covers’ during PrepperCon, which also featured actors from the AMC hit show ‘The Walking Dead’

Prepared: Beryl Paffrath, left, handles a Akdal 1919, AR-15 style, 12 gauge shotgun, while Matthew Kitterman, of MTK Arms, looks on during the expo. The two-day event was apparently inspired by ComicCon's success

Prepared: Beryl Paffrath, left, handles a Akdal 1919, AR-15 style, 12 gauge shotgun, while Matthew Kitterman, of MTK Arms, looks on during the expo. The two-day event was apparently inspired by ComicCon’s success

Dress-up: Attendees  learned new ways to store food, were led around underground bunkers, tried out solar powered flashlights - and even dressed up as zombies. Above, an image tweeted by PrepperCon organizers

Dress-up: Attendees learned new ways to store food, were led around underground bunkers, tried out solar powered flashlights – and even dressed up as zombies. Above, an image tweeted by PrepperCon organizers

Scott Stallings, one of PrepperCon’s founders, said the event was inspired by ComicCon’s success, adding that he had amped up the entertainment with the hope of attracting younger attendees.

He said that Utah made sense for America’s first expo because of the Mormon culture’s emphasis on food storage and self-reliance. Among the expo’s main events was a zombie costume contest.

‘In the prepping industry, we look at zombies as a metaphor,’ said Mr Stallings, who lives in Murray. ‘Anyone that’s coming to take away your stuff, your safety, inflict harm on your family.’

Vendors who filled the South Towne Expo Center on Friday and Saturday showed off an array of gear to help people survive a zombie apocalypse, a natural disaster or life in the wilderness. 

Bunker: Scott Stallings, one of PrepperCon's founders, said he had amped up the entertainment with the hope of attracting younger attendees. Above, Mr Peters stands in front of the steel underground bunker

Bunker: Scott Stallings, one of PrepperCon’s founders, said he had amped up the entertainment with the hope of attracting younger attendees. Above, Mr Peters stands in front of the steel underground bunker

Armored: Robert and Dori Wickert look at a prototype combat vehicle during the PrepperCon expo on Friday

Armored: Robert and Dori Wickert look at a prototype combat vehicle during the PrepperCon expo on Friday

Demonstration: Sam Warren climbs into the vehicle as hundreds of survivalists and 'Preppers' eagerly watch

Demonstration: Sam Warren climbs into the vehicle as hundreds of survivalists and ‘Preppers’ eagerly watch

Contest: PrepperCon organizers took to Twitter to encourage attendees to dress up in their best zombie gear

Contest: PrepperCon organizers took to Twitter to encourage attendees to dress up in their best zombie gear

This gear included knives of all shapes and sizes, ‘cutting-edge’ gadgets, food storage units, first aid supplies and armored trucks. There were also live demonstrations and the survival cooking contest. 

Miller, 15, told KUTV that she thought the expo was ‘really cool’ and that Salt Lake City was a ‘gorgeous’ region. ‘I enjoy meeting the fans and getting their perspective on the show,’ she added.

The North Carolina teenager was joined at the event on Saturday by her co-star, Theo Crane.

Celebrity survival expert Mykel Hawke, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer who is best known for his role on the survival reality TV series ‘Man, Woman, Wild’, also made an appearance.

Motoped: Mr Stallings said that Utah made sense for America's first expo because of the Mormon culture's emphasis on food storage and self-reliance. Above, Ken Stone demonstrates the Motoped Survival Bike

Motoped: Mr Stallings said that Utah made sense for America’s first expo because of the Mormon culture’s emphasis on food storage and self-reliance. Above, Ken Stone demonstrates the Motoped Survival Bike

Apocalypse: PrepperCon tweeted this screenshot from its event commercial, made by Centerstar Marketing

Apocalypse: PrepperCon tweeted this screenshot from its event commercial, made by Centerstar Marketing

Actress: 'The Walking Dead' star Addy Miller took pictures with fans and acted as a judge in an emergency preparedness food cook-off. Above, the actress told KUTV that she thought the expo was 'really cool'

Actress: ‘The Walking Dead’ star Addy Miller took pictures with fans and acted as a judge in an emergency preparedness food cook-off. Above, the actress told KUTV that she thought the expo was ‘really cool’

Enthusiastic: Miller, 15, took to Twitter last week to promote her appearance at PrepperCon in Salt Lake City

Enthusiastic: Miller, 15, took to Twitter last week to promote her appearance at PrepperCon in Salt Lake City

On its website, PrepperCon describes a ‘Prepper’ as ‘a person who believes a major disaster or emergency is likely to occur in the future and makes active preparations for it.’

They do so by ‘stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies’, it says. 

In relation to its two-day expo, it adds: ‘We combine the best of entertainment, emergency preparedness, gun shows, off-grid living and survival into one incredible experience.’

PrepperCon’s motto is ‘Prepare. Protect. Survive. Thrive.’ 

A single day pass for the event was $14.00, while a two-day pass was priced at $25.00.

 

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