‘And Then There Was “Crushfest”‘
Many started with handshakes and finished with hugs. We have something very special here in this community, and I will be grateful for it until the day I die and afterward…allegedly.
“It was an amazing time. An event to be treasured. Excellent food and excellent conversations with new friends that felt like old friends. A recipe for a better America.” – Jarrod (Teddy) Bear
I never thought it would lead to such greatness, when Longbow Bear called me to tell me that Jarrod (Teddy) Bear and Callista Bear were stopping to have dinner nearby on their way home from a road trip. I hopped in the car and rushed off to meet them. Longbow found a place where we could sit down for dinner. I showed up late and walked downstairs, greeted by the bears to hugs all around! Outside of a brief moment of pure rage upon hearing Teddy Bear’s (Boston) accent, we jumped right into what turned out to be one of the best times I’d had all year.
During dinner, we started talking about the meetup I had hosted on New Year’s weekend. That time, it was 20 or so of us and it was great! We also talked about my love of fireworks, and I told Callista, “I wish I was a planner, because I would love to do a big party for the 4th of July with a big fireworks show.” Well, Boss Lady Callista thought it was an awesome idea and happily stated how much she loves to plan parties. She said that she would plan and I would do the fireworks. We imagined how great it would be if we got 50 people to come. And, that’s how it started.
The thing about meeting bears—you feel like you’ve known ’em for years. We get each other’s jokes, have pretty much the same values, and while there is plenty of disagreement over certain topics, no one ever gets triggered. Coming from VERY different world of NYC, it warms my heart knowing that I am not alone. Feels good, man.
Now take those good vibes and warm heart, multiply it by 6 million, and you might have an idea of how wonderful I felt on the weekend of Crushfest 2021. From beginning to end it was nothing short of fantastic. I say this without any reservation whatsoever; the bears are the most wonderful people I’ve ever met. Coming from 20+ states, they brought their families, food, presents and games. Many started with handshakes and finished with hugs. We have something very special here in this community, and I will be grateful for it until the day I die and afterward…allegedly.
Once word got out, bears started volunteering time, money, and services to make it happen. Of those who helped out, there’s way too many to name. But, Copper Bear deserves special mention. She was vital in making our first Crushfest a huge success. She and many others showed up a couple of days in advance just to help out.
“One of my favorite memories of the party was the day before the fireworks show there was an intimate crew of around 20 people getting the grounds prepared. As the men were dragging brush, I was on a mission to make sandwiches. I knew they would be hungry. The sky was grey and threatening. Thunderstorms were on the horizon. I could smell the rain creeping up… Right as I was finishing up the second tray, the rain poured over the earth in a monsoon. Everyone made for cover in this summer storm and welcomed the meal readied for them.”
– Copper Bear
Copper Bear (Seen right)
The kid’s games were adorable as the parents watched dutifully in gratitude to share a day with them and the people they love. Frisbees made especially by Finksburg Bear soared through the sky.
DASack Bear held a chicken culling workshop.
Even Bearapalegic’s coffee made it up the stairs and into pots of coffee, which kept the crew going and warmed our conversations.
The time with all the bears was richly rewarding. Mohawk Farmer Bear provided a large pig, freshly roasted by Longbow. (Best pig I’ve ever tasted in my life!)
Rebeca Bear’s shipment of avocados was made into guacamole (thanks to Copper managing the kitchen!).
The delta team was hard at work setting up the pyro-musical that featured Anchor Bear’s song “Onward to Beartaria.”
Copper insisted, “next show, bear produced music only,” and that’s exactly what we plan to do!
The highlight of the games was an epic tug-of-war match, featuring two teams: the Bearded and the Unbearded (shorter than 2”). We don’t have to tell you how that ended.
Even for a Bear meet-up though, Crushfest 2021 was unique. It was the biggest meet-up yet, there was every kind of July 4th entertainment you could want – fireworks, a slip & slide, an Ira piñata, a game of Find a Rogan in the Haystack. AJ Rhino/Rhino Bear absolutely knocked it out of the park. His garden was also one of the most inspiring “homestead goals” I’ve seen in my life. I am so so grateful for the bears & for Crushfest 2021. – SpiceBear
There was axe throwing and a slip & slide. But, nothing topped the Campfire hang outs that lasted till 2am. Seasoned bears helped give new bears their bear names; building and maintaining the fire as it would wane, we shared life stories. There, we really got to know each other. All of this with the backdrop of the Amish Paradise of Pennsylvania.
And, this is only the beginning.
Crushfest 2021 was the ultimate bear bash! It felt like a long lost family reunion. The food was so fresh and amazing. I’ve never seen that much meat outside of a Hawaiian luau. Like Spice Bear said, ‘It’s like a music festival for people who’ve got their stuff together.’ My husband still hasn’t stopped talking about the fireworks show being the best he’s even seen. The most remarkable thing though, was the instant camaraderie with bear friends new and old, and the wonderful, peaceful feeling of being among your own tribe! – Jerusha McBear
We were there for over 6 hours and it wasn’t nearly enough time to meet and interact with everyone. The people I did talk to were interesting and we always had a lot in common. The biggest thing for me though, was the family environment that helped my wife feel more engaged with the bears and to make some friends. – SackBear
When God drops the veils from your eyes and you see through all the lies of this world the next hand the devil tries to deal you is fear, loneliness and isolation. He wants you to believe you are all alone in a crazy world, I know because he played this hand in my life and I called his bluff. You are never meant to be an island, find your tribe, find your hill to grow on. I’ve found mine. Honored to be a part of this community, honored to call myself a Bear. – LongbowBear
I love bear meet ups. I have traveled over 20,000 miles to attend bear meet ups to meet around 300 bears and their families. I have hosted two bear meet ups at my home this year. This is what connects us all. Find bears in your area and hang out. – Copper Bear
Crushfest 2021 was my first Bear meet-up. I was so glad I found out about it when I did. I knew it would be awesome, but it still really floored me. There is nothing like being with the Bears in person. Virtual friendship doesn’t come close. It really isn’t every day you come across people who think the same way you do. It feels like a social weight lifted off your chest. And now it’s like socialization itself has been revolutionized for me. Bear meet-ups will fill your heart with hope like nothing else can and utterly restore your faith in humanity. – SpiceBear
Overall, there were over 100 Bears that celebrated victory over fear and sharing joy with one another. It was a grand time; truly a night to remember. – Ukrainian Bear
What crushfest meant to me was community…It meant good food, faith, friendship and family. It was another example that we are not alone and there are plenty of people who see the world the way I do. It meant I could let my kids be free to play and explore and know that they were safe and with good people and well raised friends. It was a break from the chains of Babylon that some of us haven’t been able to escape yet. But most of all, it meant, no one is having more fun than us and no one is having more kids than us. – Camera Bear
All of the families with children did amazing! The kids found their own fun, made friends, and we’re so joyful! There was so much thought put into all of the activities for the kids and there were great people to talk to everywhere you turned! – Family Force Bear
I spent several moments throughout the day just watching my kids playing or my husband chatting away, soaking it all in and feeling pure joy. And that’s what this Bear community is to me. Nourishment for my soul, encouragement in my path, and pure joy in my heart. – SokeyDokeyBear
Hi! I’m Zeel, PAsnowboard Bear’s sister-in-law. I just wanted to say that the crushfest was amazing and something very different then I’d seen before. It’s amazing that everyone meets online and has their own talents and interests…but at the end everyone is a big family and it’s like you’ve known these people for a long time. I had a great time! – Zeel P.
God Bless Beartaria
An Ozark Thanksgiving
We need each other, and we want to help each other because we’ve all committed to seeing this thing through, building an alternative community to the one of indentured servitude that we’ve been sold our entire lives. We have another important, foundational similarity that gives me chills. If you ask most Bears why they moved to the Ozarks, they’ll tell you that, like us, God called them here.
By: Melissa Bunfill (@melissabeth on BTA)
In the third week of November 2021, sixty Bears and Cubs gathered together to celebrate the 1st Annual Ozark Bears Thanksgiving. After moving to the Ozarks only six months prior, our families were astounded that we were able to make so many friends in such a short amount of time. Our community here is incredible. I really believe that what we have created here is what Owen was dreaming of when he first came up with the concept of Beartaria. But I can’t begin to tell you about our community without first telling you how we got here.
2020 was an eye-opening year for everyone. We were blessed to already be doing small-scale homesteading on our almost 1.5 acres in the Northern California foothills. We already homeschooled our kids, ate real nourishing food, and avoided medical interventions. Through the experience of the cooties’ insanity, we began listening to the Big Bear’s streams. We became convinced that usury was a sin and became determined to get out of debt. At the same time, my husband unexpectedly quit his job of 14 years. He decided to take a month off to decompress and reassess. During that glorious time with him at home, we realized that we longed for him to be home more to help raise our young sons.
We dreamed of a life where he could work part-time. A life where I could bring him a sandwich as he worked on pasture fences or fixed sprinklers, and we could have un-rushed lunches together. We realized that these dreams were not possible in our “dream house” on the big hill, with the big mortgage to match. If we wanted him to be around more often, instead of working sixty hours a week to afford our fancy-pants life, we needed to move.
In the time between, he quit his job and he sold our house a few months later, God burned many bridges for us that made it easier for us to move. We’re thankful now for the painful lessons that made it clear that it was time to leave California and start a new life. Our house sold on the first weekend. We sold the majority of our belongings and loaded our family of five into our 5th wheel trailer. We had no jobs lined up and no home to move to. We set out with blind faith in the fact that God was speaking to us loudly, and we could not ignore it.
Over the next four months, we traveled to fourteen states. After spending six weeks in Arkansas, the state my husband thought he might like to call home, we headed north into Missouri. As we crossed the border, I sighed deeply. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could breathe. Missouri just FELT good. We had plans to meet family in Yellowstone and reluctantly left Missouri. Leaving Missouri, however, cemented the fact that it was the place for us. We all longed to return. At a miserable RV park in South Dakota, I told my husband that I just wanted to go home. “Where is home?” he asked. “Missouri,” I replied without hesitation.
After our visit to Yellowstone, we were so excited to finally be on our way home. We had connected with some Bears on the Missouri page of the Beartaria Times App who were hosting a meetup at their house on Memorial Day weekend. God tested our resolve, and in Colorado, our truck broke down, threatening our ability to make it to the meetup. However, two weeks and $10K later, we were back on the road with only three days left until the meetup. We made it to Salem, MO, and were greeted by ELOV8 Bear on his 140-acre homestead deep in an Ozark holler. On soft, rolling hills so lush that we could have been hundreds of miles into some jungle, we were welcomed with open arms as we met old friends for the first time.
All the men who would go on to form Ozark Legacy Contracting just five months later, my husband Bill, Mr.PermieBear, TylerBear, and GunniteBear, were all at that first meetup. It was a dream to have moved 2,000 miles across the country, knowing no one, yet walking into a ready-made community of based Bears.
By November of that year, we’d spent countless hours getting together with our Ozark Bear community nearly weekly, having workdays on each other’s newly acquired, rundown farms. Having homeschool play days, sharing dinners together, welcoming babies, and trying to grow into a real, functioning community. It’s not hard to see why the legend of the Missouri Bear community has spread throughout the realm. Most Bears moved here, like us, without family, and following blind faith, knowing no one. To assimilate into a completely new culture, as well as navigate basic necessities such as where to source nourishing food to feed our growing families. We had to lean on and learn from each other. I’ll also put this next part bluntly for those Bears considering a move here. Living in the Ozarks is hard. There is no Costco, Target, or Home Depot. There are no shopping malls or movie theaters. There are no hipster coffee shops, and there are no Whole Foods. In the only grocery store near us, there is not even an “organic” section in the produce aisle. There are snakes, ticks, chiggers, poison ivy, and the occasional tornado. We’ve all bought farms with nearly falling down houses and multiple junk piles littered around the property, in true Missouri style. To navigate the difficulties of living here alone would be disheartening at best. In short, this community works because we need each other. We need each other, and we want to help each other because we’ve all committed to seeing this thing through, building an alternative community to the one of indentured servitude that we’ve been sold our entire lives. We have another important, foundational similarity that gives me chills. If you ask most Bears why they moved to the Ozarks, they’ll tell you that, like us, God called them here.
As Thanksgiving 2021 approached, we were keenly aware that most of our friends would be celebrating without family. We decided to host a Thanksgiving meetup for the local bears. At the time, we were still living in our 5th wheel, as we were knee-deep in renovating our recently purchased 1938 farmhouse. Seekers of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful arrived bearing mashed potatoes, green beans, loaves of sourdough, pies, and cakes. The fact that our house was halfway demolished inside and that tables and chairs were set up on plywood subfloor under open holes in the ceiling phased no one. Bears are so cool. No one cares about fancies and lollies. They just cared that we were together, sharing stories and encouragement. And that the gravy is ladled generously and served piping hot. As a prayer was said over the meal, bread was broken, and friendships were formed. RedPandaBear organized a group photo in front of our barn, a tradition we repeated this year. It’s a tradition that I hope to continue every year and watch what faces show up year after year and also to see what new faces are added. Over the past year, several Bears have asked if we were going to host Thanksgiving again. My enthusiastic reply assured them that I hope to host every year as a standing event for Bears to count on and look forward to.
This year, I was slightly nervous hosting as our Ozark Bear numbers have grown exponentially. To date, we have around forty-five bear families living within a two-hour radius. With the attention our community has been receiving with the recent festival and purchase of campground land, we decided to invite only local bears via our Telegram chat rather than posting to the Beartaria Times App. We initially hoped to host outside as we were anticipating around 100 people. As often happens when a group of crushers assembles, similar to the weekend of the National Festival, it rained. It hadn’t rained for weeks, yet on the morning of Thanksgiving, the heavens opened, and it poured. We moved couches, rugs, and end tables into bedrooms and set up tables and chairs inside to host the 89 Bears who attended. Honorable mention to BoatShoesBear, who showed up ready to crush and did most of the set-up. Everyone was amenable to the change even though we were all quite cozy packed inside together. It all worked out except for the fact that the mountain of muddy boots by the front door looked like something out of a Spielberg movie. Bear mamas came bearing so much food that we could have fed a group twice our size. There was plenty of wholesome fun had by all. My husband gave tractor rides to the kids, and our builder buddy made an obstacle course for the kids. There were several tug-of-war battles by the cubs as well. Ever since the festival, the kids have been playing tug-of-war whenever they get together to prepare to crush at next year’s festival. Thanks to the rain, we were able to light a giant bonfire in front of the barn to keep everyone warm. We even ended the night with fireworks for the kids. All the mamas pitched in at the end of the day to do dishes, sweep, and clean. Countless Bears thanked us for hosting. A few told us it was the best Thanksgiving they had ever had.
This is a tradition we will continue every year. The bolstering of our spirits and the closeness created by gathering together makes these events worth it. Owen talks about finding what you can do to add value to your community. I can’t fix your kitchen sink or build you a website, but I can bring people together and provide a welcoming, cozy place for people to gather. Gather together, Bears. Gather whether your house is under construction, or you live in a camper or a shophouse, or if your house looks like it belongs in a magazine. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you find each other and BUILD. Build communities, build alternatives, build EACH OTHER. This type of event also prompts us to reflect and practice one of the key elements to Bear life– gratitude. We come together and share what we are thankful for. We are thankful for this community that has helped us not only to survive here in the Ozarks but to thrive. We are thankful to the Bears here who have become wonderful friends and supported us to put down roots and build. We are thankful to Owen for catalyzing all of us on paths pursuing the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. We are thankful, most of all, to God, for showing us the way and for providing abundantly.
Until next year, Ozark Bears, onward to Beartaria!
The Crushing Continues at the Second Annual Midwest Bearfest
Farming Artist was the bear who put this all together. She and her family offered workshops on butchering chickens, making chicken stock, keeping bees, making goat milk soap, and trimming goat hooves, but I’m sure I missed a few.
During the last few days of September, rolling into the first few days of October, our friends, The Jones family, hosted the second annual Midwest Bearfest.
In mid-Michigan lies a small farming town and a family of Crushers willing to have 100 people at their farm. Moonlit Farm has been in the Jones family for five generations and counting.
The event was held from Thursday through Sunday. Farming Artist put this all together. She and her family offered workshops on butchering chickens, making chicken stock, keeping bees, making goat milk soap, and trimming goat hooves, but I’m sure I missed a few.
These fine folks did much prep work to prepare the farm for 100 guests. They prepared part of the farm for camping and had massive piles of rocks and wood for campfires. They also offered food for all four days. Amazingly, this family would allow 100 mostly strangers to their farm, but even more impressive is that they were willing to share five generations of skills with us.
During the days, it was workshops and hay rides. When the sunset on this beautiful farm, it was time for campfires and gravy! There were no less than four fires each night, with different groups enjoying them. People floated back and forth to the fire pits sharing stories, bonding, or simply enjoying old friends for the first time.
This event felt like home to me. The Jones family has always treated me like family. The bear community is the best at making you feel like you belong.
Sunday morning of Midwest Bearfest came with a bit of a surprise. Farming Artist asked me to head a bible study. This request was a bit shocking to me; I’m no pastor. But I mustered up enough courage to do it, and it was actually quite comfortable. The bears volunteered to read passages with me and were very patient with my message. I have never done anything like this. It was humbling, and it strengthened my faith. I’m so glad I was asked to do it.
To the Jones family, we thank you for having us at your home. To the bears, thank you for showing up. As always, we thank our Lord for the opportunities he gives and the love he gives. I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend this event and grateful to meet all my old friends for the first time. Keep Krushing bears, Onward!
A look at This Year’s Fourth of July Northeast Crushfest
The event was planned and organized by several families from the northeast region and morphed from the epic party it was last year into a weekend festival of camping, games, education, fellowship, and good food.
This year the annual Northeast Crushfest was held at Bear Crest Farm in western Pennsylvania on the Fourth of July weekend. It sure was a weekend to remember for all those who attended. The event was planned and organized by several families from the northeast region and morphed from the epic party it was last year into a weekend festival of camping, games, education, fellowship, and good food. The first night everyone shared in a grand feast provided by the organizing families.
The campsites, nestled in a newly cleared corner of the property, looked like a wooded wonderland with lights strung through the trees. The hosts even built an outdoor shower for their guests.
There was never a dull moment with acres to explore and open fields to play in. Bears and cubs enjoyed plenty of lawn games and rounds of volleyball throughout the event. There was a giant downhill slip and slide for the kids and many organized games and activities throughout the weekend. The men continued the tradition of a tug-o-war and added kickball to the list of annual competitions. In addition, there were many skill demonstrations, including chicken culling and first aid. Fireside chats were enjoyed by many each evening. This regional festival is sure to continue evolving each year, and we can’t wait to see where these incredible bears take it next year!
We could write a lot more, but these epic video montages filmed and edited by Red Panda Bear speak for themselves!
Photos provided by Camera Bear
Get more information or RSVP for next year at: https://northeastcrushfest.com
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