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Where is Bitcoin Heaven on Earth? At the 13th Annual Porcupine Freedom Festival, which includes dozens of talks on everything crypto, and a decentralized market of vendors, almost all of whom take Bitcoin.
The Porcupine Freedom Festival, or PorcFest, might be the most Bitcoin-friendly festival in the world. The week long festival, put on by the libertarian non-profit organization the Free State Project, just wrapped up its 13th annual instalment last Sunday. It took place at Roger’s Campground in Lancaster, in the far north of New Hampshire. PorcFest serves as both an outdoor camping festival and as a political conference. Registration staff estimated its attendance as high as 1,400 over the course of the week.
CoinTelegraph was present at PorcFest to observe events and interview attendees.
Unlike other similar conferences and festivals, PorcFest has a strong crypto-anarchist and pro-Bitcoin vibe.
Carla Gericke, former president of the Free State Project and current president of the regional pro-independence Foundation for New Hampshire Independence, has seen the trend towards crypto increase every year.
Gericke said to CoinTelegraph:
“I think it’s been growing year over year. It’s amazing to see. The Free State Project started accepting Bitcoin as payment for our events back in 2010, I believe, so we’ve been taking it for a long time.”
PorcFest XIII included 15 listed separate events dedicated to Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and decentralized tech over the course of the seven day fest. There was a daily Bitcoin-only happy hour hosted by Token Labs, and an update on the Silk Road trial by Lyn Ulbricht and the Free Ross Legal Defence effort. Additionally, there was a presentation on the decentralized online marketplace OpenBazaar, and an update from the decentralized content platform LBRY, including the screening of films via Blockchain, touted as the first in history.
Matt Welch, editor at large of the libertarian publication Reason, commented on the distinct crypto-anarchist focus of the festival:
“I assume just from being here for a grand total of four or five hours and hearing conversationally at least five references to Blockchain technology (and importantly it not having Bitcoin be the word, it’s actually Blockchain), that crypto-anarchy remains fundamental to the current libertarian sense of itself. It is a wing, that wing is with us, it’s growing, it’s interesting, it’s throwing off some of the more interesting activities, and tonight we’re going to see the first Blockchain movie at 8 o’clock, here on this compound. So it’s clearly an arena for great creativity.”
The crypto bent of the festival extends far beyond official programming, according to Gericke.
“This year, of course, people could buy their tickets with Bitcoin. But then, in Agora Valley, which is a fully-decentralized marketplace, you see a lot of the vendors accepting Bitcoin.”
Steven Zeiler, Software Architect at Zen Software, observed how vendors in the Agora Valley area of the festival have become increasingly turned on to Bitcoin, nearing total acceptance.
He explained to CoinTelegraph:
“Everyone wants to use non-Federal Reserve notes, because basically everyone since Ron Paul happened knows about the Federal Reserve and how it’s a screw job. People were doing silver a lot more last year, and I think that alternative money is a very core part of the Porcfest community and the Free State community. But this year it’s like 95% plus have taken Bitcoin, and there’s only two places which only do silver or FRNs. So it’s definitely grown.”
Zeiler also notes that the Bitcoin-friendly nature of Agora Valley was not planned, but rather sprung up spontaneously.
“I don’t think anyone said like “this is an official Porcfest thing that everyone needs to be doing” or anything. It’s really just a market response for people asking for better money.”
In addition to hosting PorcFest, the Free State Project has brought thousands of movers to New Hampshire seeking to congregate and bring greater human liberty to the area, creating one of the most robust Bitcoin communities in the world.
Participants have pushed pro-Bitcoin legislation, founded Blockchain startups like LBRY and Arcade City, and inspired projects such as the Humanitarian Blockchain and Cell 411. According to Welch, crypto-anarchy is “perfectly in line for the Free State Project.”
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