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Wasatch County residents learn self-reliance and emergency preparedness

Hundreds of Wasatch County residents learned how to be self-reliant and prepared for emergencies Saturday.

The Wasatch County Self Reliance and Preparedness Fair is a biannual event free to anyone. Mike Petersen and his wife started the fair four years ago. Petersen organizes the self-reliance side of things and Sherriff Jeremy Hales, the Wasatch County Emergency Manager, handles the emergency preparedness side of the fair.

Petersen said it's a citizen effort to provide resources to the community.

“[We] created this fair for the community to help prepare the community for emergencies or even to become more self-reliant, being able to produce their own food to a certain point and raise animals and bees and all kinds of things,” he said.

The fair had over 25 classes and over 40 display tables featuring different vendors and businesses focusing on self-reliance and preparedness. There are classes about gardening, beekeeping, freeze drying, wilderness survival and more.

It was Steve Wilson’s first time at the fair. He has lived in Midway for almost seven years and attended the fair to learn more about gardening.

“My mother has done gardens for years, and the tomatoes, the zucchinis taste so much better than what we get at the grocery store," he said. "So we thought we'd try it.”

Sandra Olsen taught one of the gardening classes. She recommends gardeners make sure soil has enough sulfur as it's important for stability. Especially in the Wasatch Back, sulfur might have to be added to the soil with sulfur pellets or Epsom salt. Olsen also recommends gardeners use nylon professional landscape fabric to keep out weeds.

Alison Drew attended the fair for a second time because she didn’t attend all the classes she wanted to last year.

“We moved here from Texas and so it's a whole new climate, whole new area, new things, and I just thought I want to be prepared,” she said.

This time Drew learned how to care for fruit trees and what to pack in a 72-hour kit. At the 72-hour kit class, Drew said she learned to think first about what she’s planning for.

Instructor Tyler White said you need different kits for different scenarios, but the best kits are prepared for the worst-case man-made and natural disasters, like an earthquake or Yellowstone supervolcanic eruption.

Mandy Anderson and her daughter Madison Anderson taught community members how to make soap and lotion. Mandy said it's a self-reliant and cost-effective practice.

“As a culture, we've been trained to think we have to buy and buy and purchase all these products from beauty to self-care or home care," Mandy said, "and we don't we can make them ourselves and it's a lot better for us financially and for our health.” 

Madison demonstrated how to make soap, using lard, lye and water. Adding lye to water causes the mixture to heat up, which Mandy said can be scary for some people. With some gloves and practice, she said it’s not difficult.

“If you learn now, while it's fun and it's just incorporated into your life, it's not stressful if you ever do have to rely on yourself,” Mandy said.

Those who missed or want to attend the fair again will have another chance in October as the fair is put on every spring and fall.