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'PorcFest' liberty celebration starts Sunday, expected to draw more than 1,500 guests

By JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent

June 18. 2015 10:21PM
Roger's Campground and Motel on Route 2 in Lancaster will be an increasingly busy place today as the facility gets ready to host the 12th annual PorcFest. Expected to draw 1,500 visitors, PorcFest starts Sunday and is billed as a weeklong celebration of liberty. (John Koziol)

LANCASTER — The tents begin going up today at Roger’s Campground and Motel, which for another year will soon host the Porcupine Freedom Festival, known as PorcFest, a weeklong celebration of liberty that is expected to draw some 1,500 visitors from near and far.

Now in its 12th year the event is billed by the Free State Project as a “unique camping event which includes activities for all ages,” among them “campfires, panel discussions, presentations, movies, live talk shows, dancing, singing, music, food, parties” and “all around liberty-loving good times.”

PorcFest XII will focus on do-it-yourself, self-reliance, instructional classes and skill building while also offering attendees the opportunity to learn more about libertarianism; non-violent communication; permaculture; civil disobedience and the escalation of force; and “how to get elected and reduce the government from within.”

Among the myriad other choices, there’ll also be a handgun shoot for newbies, and, on June 27, a masquerade ball.

“PorcFest is more a social get-together than a political or philosophical conference, although it’s a little of both,” said Jason Sorens, a lecturer at Dartmouth College and the founder of the FSP, in an e-mail Thursday.

The Free State Project is an agreement among 20,000 participants to move to New Hampshire, where they will work together to “create a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property.”

According to FSP.org, the campaign is about 85 percent to its commitment goal. Once the 20,000th commitment is made, then all the signatories will have five years to move to the Granite State. Several thousand are already here, with an estimated dozen or more of them currently serving in the NH House of Representatives.

In 2015, Free Staters have been prominent in Keene, where their right to drop coins into expired parking meters before traffic enforcement officers can write a ticket was upheld by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and also in Grafton where, however, they met with less success.

In Grafton, Free Staters and supporters failed to win any new seats in the town election and lost those they had on the planning board.

Additionally, all 20 FSP-inspired articles on the Grafton Town Warrant failed, as did a lawsuit seeking to order the printing of new town ballots because a number of warrant articles contained advisory comments from the Board of Selectmen, constituting what the lawsuit said was an unfair, illegal “super vote.” An appeal is currently making its way through the state Supreme Court’s preliminary review process.

Free Staters have raised the hackles of some of their neighbors because they’ve challenged the existing order, sometimes just by asking the question “why;” other times by being conspicuous in their celebration of the Second Amendment and disdain for the government, as when in March 2014, a group of Free Staters attending a traffic hearing in Laconia District Court refused to stand when the judge entered the courtroom.

Crosby Peck, who is the owner of Roger’s Campground and Motel, likes his Free State guests precisely because they do shake things up and because they’re an enjoyable bunch to host.

Peck has seen PorcFest grow from 500 visitors to its present size and on Wednesday he reported that for this year’s festival his facility — which boasts a 52-unit hotel, 305 RV sites, 125 tent sites and 48 safari sites — was “pretty well booked.”

“The whole area” in and around Lancaster “for the most part, welcomes them (Free Staters) for what they do for the local economy,” said Peck, adding that of the 1,500 visitors who come to PorcFest, many will go into town to buy groceries, gas and various sundries.

Having met many PorcFest attendees, some from as far away as Europe and Australia, Peck said they’re “fantastic people” and fastidious, too, noting that each year a volunteer Free State clean-up crew leaves the campground, which is pretty neat already, “even nicer than when they came in.”

“They (the PorcFesters) have become very good acquaintances and friends,” said Peck.


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