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I Went To TPUSA America Fest: How Does It Hold Up Under Critical Review?



Turning Point USA (TPUSA) put on its second annual America Fest (AmFest) in Phoenix, Arizona from December 17 – December 20 and Free Press Fail was there covering all the action and checking out the hype. 

It’s easy to be enamored with the celebrity and the collective spirit of the event. Check out my article to see what were my favorite and least favorite parts. But liking an event (which I very much did) is not the same as reviewing it with a critical lens. 

The Conservative Critic asks: Was it entertaining? Did it have artistic/intellectual value? And was it liberal propaganda? 

The Conservative Critic Meter Check: Turning Point USA America Fest 2022

Overall Rating: Incredible 

Overall, the event was fun, phenomenally produced, well-staffed, safe (if it got protested, I didn’t see it), and totally based. When looking at the myriad of other events across the country (including CPAC), most of which I have avoided like the plague because they are so insufferably tedious and full of hacks, TPUSA’s AmFest blows them right out of the water. No competition. 

The devil is really in the details and whoever was in charge of the event really understood how details can make or break what you’re trying to accomplish. Whoever was brought on board as the event coordinator was a genius, Charlie and his team built out an outstanding agenda and the vendors all came ready to put on the best possible show. From the kindness of event staff to the energy of the crowd, to the overarching messaging and themes, TPUSA’s AmFest was a total out of the ballpark, into the out atmosphere homerun. 

Was it entertaining? 

Rating: 10x more fun than any other conservative convention

AmFest was loads of fun. Without it being said, one of the themes seemed to be “make being a conservative fun again.”  The speakers were all high energy and each night featured some form of extra entertainment. On the first night, there was a country music concert featuring Raelynn (of whom I was already a big fan) and Chase Rice, as well as Riley Green. I felt a little bad for the singers because the young people (the bulk of the attendees were college-aged) were so respectful and courteous (not like the rabid leftists you’d find at a regular music festival) they didn’t get very rowdy which can be hard to feed off when you’re performing. To Rice’s credit, he really got folks going and pumped the energy up. At one point he threw a beer into the crowd (to someone, not aggressively) and the whole surrounding area (which happened to be right by me) shouted at him “HEY THAT IS A MINOR SHE CANNOT HAVE THAT!” and that young lady handed the beer to a nearby adult. Hilariously good kids at this thing.

The event also featured a Christian music concert on the second night and several third-party after-parties sponsored by the various attending organizations. I went to two of them, one being the Project Veritas party which was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to and the other being from an organization I won’t call out because I thought the “party” was so boring and so tedious that I couldn’t bear to stay for more than 15 minutes (it was in a very sad gray hotel conference room with a vibe stuffier than a daytime office Christmas social). This party – though not officially sanctioned by TPUSA – is the only reason AmFest is not getting a perfect score on “fun.” 

To combat a boring after-party dominating your VIP crowd attendance, it would be wise for TPUSA to recruit and partner with more organizations to create more competition for after-parties and events all over town during the event. Attendees could essentially have reception and party hop going to each thing which benefits the sponsoring organizations and ensures no one has a night they consider to be a clunker. 

Additionally, I thought the event balanced fun with safety extremely well. Because the attendees were a lot college-aged and many teens with their parents, it was critical to the success of the event that TPUSA managed to keep the fun age appropriate and measured. Alcohol was only sold in the venue in the VIP area which was a much more expensive ticket targeted toward adults, brands, and business people. This kept most of the kids totally separate from even the sale of alcohol, let alone distribution. At after-parties with alcohol, card checking was done at the door and was meticulous. All the kids stayed at one hotel and the other visitors were kept at another hotel. I’m not sure what TPUSA did to manage this, but if there were any protests of the event – I never saw them. The safety of keeping protesters away, kids separate from adults, and careful checks for contraband was a critical way the event stayed fun. No one has a good time if kids are in danger and TPUSA understood this and prevented it. 

Did it have artistic/intellectual value? 

Rating: Masterful 

The production value of AmFest was insanely good. The whole thing was so slick and cool that I was in awe. The stage was absolutely stunning and moreover – it photographed so well. The neon lighting used is the kind that reflects light and looks ever clearer in even amateur photography ensuring that visitors could easily promote the event all over social media using just camera phones without the annoying glare that sometimes ruins less well-designed sets. Every time a speaker came out, TPUSA treated them like they were a WWE superstar. Click here to see my video of Kari Lake coming out to get an idea. There were fireworks, smoke, confetti cannons, and signature beats for every single speaker. It was so hype. And for the entire event, I saw maybe one video or production error. The TPUSA team (and whoever did the event with them) was on their game 100% all day for every speaker. 

Free Press Fail was in the VIP area and that area was also extremely well managed. Details were so important. They kept the lighting down and a slight fog machine going the entire time so you always had the sense you were in some sort of nightclub and you couldn’t see how boring the convention center would have otherwise looked. Their team was constantly circulating the room cleaning up trash and asking people if they needed anything. In fact, the venue was completely spotless at all times. I never saw trash on the floor. Never. And that is probably a product of a fairly respectful crowd but also those TPUSA staffers were hustling. A TPUSA staffer said to me “the people here are special and they deserve to be treated as though they are special” and it struck me as something a superior had told him to inspire his hard work. What a message to be putting out into the world. To say I was impressed would be a severe understatement. 

In the general admission area, there was a marketplace of booths hosted by sponsors and some live shows going on in the center of all the action. This was a really cool feature that allowed attendees to get a bit of an inside scoop. If anything it was all so popular they might just need a bit more space. But TPUSA understood you don’t want the event to look small, so they used only the size of space necessary to fit everyone. Not to allow for breathing room. This is a detail lesser organizations get wrong. 

In terms of intellectual content, it was clear to me that TPUSA had provided their speakers with a rough outline of what they wanted the themes of the event to be and each speaker gave their own take. This was extremely strategic because it really rallied the group around some central salient themes all of which were sound. One was the moral obligation of cheerfulness, one was the celebration of God-given biology (lots of talk on how to be a happy woman and a happy man) including repeated stressing that men should get married (thank you, Charlie Kirk) and women should let men help them and not be so afraid of vulnerability, and finally the absolutely dire situation as the country fights for its identity. There was a real Good v Evil thing going and it worked. 

I have no notes for the production and execution of the event from an artistic, intellectual and logistical point of reference. It was a nearly perfect event from my vantage point. Charlie Kirk and his team should be so incredibly proud of what they’ve done. To me now the TPUSA brand will be associated with quality. I will know that if I attend their event, it’ll be well done. 

Was it liberal propaganda? 

Rating: Based 

Not only was AmFest obviously not liberal but it was decidedly based. The only “establishment” person I saw even attending the event let alone featured was Newt Gingrich and I have my suspicions as to why considering Newt’s masterful work connecting politics to the youth Christian movement in the 1990s and early millennium (Newt’s genius will sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention). Every speaker was for Trump or was at least instructed to be for Trump or shut up about it. Almost every speaker was from new media or a member of Congress who has in at least one circle been referred to as “fringe’ (meaning maybe not COMPLETE sellouts). When I spoke to my father about all the people I was excited to see – all of whom have major followings and the kids were thrilled about – he barely knew who any of them were. This is a good thing. This is a turning to a new era of deeply passionate conservative voices who haven’t been embedded yet into the centralized system. 


TPUSA surprised me with the quality and integrity of AmFest. Frankly, I find some of their influencers to be overtly ambitious and very out of touch (for example, often turning on Trump then coming back around when they realize they’ve misread the general sentiment). They often come off as people who think they’re above the general public because I think they believe themselves to be better, smarter, and shinier than the everyday Americans who have given them a platform. However, now I know those influencers are actually a bad representation of the organization and I hope the organization considers rethinking some of them. The TPUSA staff was kind, humble, and brilliant. The TPUSA event was very in touch with real American sentiment and educated conservative voters. AmFest was the best convention I have ever been to and by far the best conservative event (way by far. Way way way by far) in the country. TPUSA is a breath away from taking the reins from the dusty old elitists who have lost us so much ground and I couldn’t be happier.