Exclusive — Inside Turning Point USA’s Inaugural AmericaFest

(Photo by: Vitaly Manzuk/Turning Point USA)
Vitaly Manzuk/Turning Point USA

Ten thousand people from across the country arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday to attend Turning Point USA (TPUSA)’s inaugural AmericaFest conference at the Phoenix Convention Center.

The line to the exhibit hall wrapped around the convention center, where a large crowd of eager attendees met and mingled with one another as they waited to get into the main event auditorium.

“It’s nice to see a more diverse group of people — all ages, all backgrounds,” college student and AmericaFest attendee Dominique Phillips told Breitbart News.

“Whenever I come to these things, the people here are just so genuine, even the complete strangers,” Phillips added. “We always just start talking right away. We all here are mostly like-minded, so it’s nice to already have something in common with everybody.”

Inside the packed event hall on Saturday evening, attendees were greeted by a guitar rendition of the national anthem before TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk took the stage while flame-like sparks burst into the air and a cannon blasted confetti overhead.

Meanwhile, an exuberant crowd chanted “USA.”

Turning Point USA's AmericaFest 2021 light show

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — attendees photograph the main stage as they anticipate Charlie Kirk’s entrance (Vitaly Manzuk/TPUSA)

Turning Point USA's AmericaFest 2021 Charlie Kirk

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — Charlie Kirk kicks off the inaugural event in Phoenix, Arizona (Vitaly Manzuk/TPUSA)

“No other country in the history of the planet, in the history of the human species, was founded on an eternal call that says you, as a human being, have dignity — that you have a right to speech, that you have a right to organize, that you have a right to start a family,” Kirk proclaimed on stage Saturday evening.

“And we recognize in America — despite what the regime says currently — that those rights do not come from government, they come from God,” Kirk added, to which the crowd responded with an affirmative roar.

Turning Point USA's AmericaFest 2021 crowd shot

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — a packed auditorium listens to Charlie Kirk (Vitaly Manzuk/TPUSA)

Turning Point USA's AmericaFest 2021 cheering

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — attendees take photos (Vitaly Manzuk/TPUSA)

“It is government’s role to protect our rights against tyranny,” Kirk continued. “Government does not give you rights. Government does not get to tell you how many people you get to have over for Thanksgiving or Christmas. They work for us.”

“Never in American history have we seen the government so disconnected from the people,” the TPUSA founder affirmed. “This is what I think drives all of you to come to an event like this. The people are with us. Our leaders are not.”

Turning Point USA's AmericaFest 2021 Charlie Kirk thumbs up

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — Charlie Kirk gives attendees a thumbs up (Vitaly Manzuk/TPUSA)

Soon after that, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson took the stage, where he told the audience that he is “truly horrified” by vaccine mandates.

“Obviously, it’s class war against the weakest people,” Carlson said. “In the end, only Salvadorian bus boys will have masks on, because the peasants can’t look at their leaders. That’s what it’s actually about. And the vax stuff is about punishing people who have no one to protect them.”

Carlson also touched upon the importance of creating a family, stating, “the single most important task is to raise up people to replace you. That’s why you have children, so your family continues after you die. That’s the whole point. That’s the point of the natural world.”

“Our most basic desire is to leave something behind — to live forever in a better place in the afterlife, but to have our family continue, hopefully forever, in this life. Our children, our grandchildren, our people, our blood, continuing,” he said.

Turning Point USA's AmericaFest 2021 Tucker Carlson

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — Tucker Carlson takes the stage (Vitaly Manzuk/TPUSA)

College student and AmericaFest attendee Cole Kleppner echoed Carlson’s sentiments, telling Breitbart News that he believes young conservatives are starting to adopt a more “rebellious mindset” by prioritizing marriage and the creation of family over staying single and working through their prime years.

“I think we’re starting to break the status quo of, you know, find a job [and] get married later on,” Kleppner said.

Sunday, the second day of the event, featured an agenda packed full of speakers, including Donald Trump Jr., former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA), Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and PragerU founder and radio host Dennis Prager, among others.

Turning Point USA's AmericaFest 2021 Alex Marlow's Sarah Palin Interview

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — Alex Marlow interviews Sarah Palin (Alana Mastrangelo/Breitbart News)

Dennis Prager takes a seat at Breitbart’s media booth for an interview with Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow during Turning Point USA’s America Fest in Phoenix, Arizona, on December 19, 2021, as a crowd of attendees take photos of the PragerU founder. (Alana Mastrangelo/Breitbart News)

Sunday also included a panel, titled, “How Cultural Marxists Hijacked America,” which featured Breitbart News editor-in-chief Alex Marlow and author and mathematician Dr. James Lindsay — moderated by Kirk.

During the panel, Marlow explained how “cultural Marxism is the greatest gift” to woke businesses and the elite, because it is used as a virtue signaling “hack” that allows companies to continue treating their employees badly, without being held accountable.

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — Alex Marlow addresses attendees during the “How Cultural Marxists Hijacked America” panel (Vitaly Manzuk/TPUSA)

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — Alex Marlow and James Lindsay wait backstage before being introduced for a panel discussion (Vitaly Manzuk/TPUSA)

On Sunday, Marlow also moderated an Election Integrity panel that focused on irregularities in the 2020 election in Maricopa County, Arizona. The panel featured Arizona State Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Mesa), State Sen. Karen Fann (R-District 1), and State Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R-District 5).

Monday was another full day packed with speakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL), Fox News’s Jesse Watters, and former senior aide to former President Donald Trump Dr. Sebastian Gorka, among several others.

The third day of the event also included a rather topical panel, titled “Kenosha on Camera,” which featured 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who was found not guilty of all charges, after a jury determined he had acted in self defense at a Black Lives Matter riot last year.

On the panel, Rittenhouse was joined by Kirk, conservative commentator Jack Posobiec, The Blaze reporter Elijah Schaffer, and investigative reporter and Kenosha witness Drew Hernandez.

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — Charlie Kirk shakes hands with Kyle Rittenhouse (Vitaly Manzuk/TPUSA)

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — Kyle Rittenhouse sits down for the “Kenosha on Camera” panel (Vitaly Manzuk/TPUSA)

“All the lies, all the slander, and all of the media coordination could not hide the truth that Kyle is an innocent young man, that he did not do anything wrong, and that he is just a normal person,” Schaffer affirmed during the panel.

Kirk added that “It’s not only that [Rittenhouse] didn’t do anything wrong. He did everything right.”

“He did everything right that night,” Kirk declared. “Kyle acted properly and morally and lawfully when someone tried to kill him. Kyle did the right thing, and he should be applauded for that.”

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Turning Point USA's AmericaFest 2021 Alex Marlow and Ted Cruz

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — Alex Marlow interviews Ted Cruz in a greenroom away from media row (Alana Mastrangelo/Breitbart News)

What made AmericaFest particularly unique from other conservative conferences were the concerts that took place at night, after the general speaking sessions had concluded for the day.

Attendees of TPUSA’s 2021 AmericaFest were able to enjoy performances by various country music stars, including Lee Greenwood, Dustin Lynch, and Brantley Gilbert, among others.

Rittenhouse also took to Twitter on Monday night to share that the TPUSA event had provided him with his first-ever concert experience.

At the end of Lynch’s performance on Monday night, the singer was joined onstage by Greenwood, who closed out the performance with his hit song, “God Bless the USA.”

“I think we’re winning the culture war for sure, because the left has absolutely nothing like this,” Kleppner told Breitbart News on Tuesday, the fourth and final day of the event.

Mikhail Alterman, an attendee from Cleveland, Ohio, told Breitbart News that the event was “above expectations,” and provided a “very positive, optimistic” environment, despite the fact that President Joe Biden is currently in office and Americans are dealing with record-high inflation.

“And I do like the fact that [AmericaFest] is very, very action oriented,” Alterman said of the event. “This is not just consuming news. Everybody here is doing something about it after this conference.”

“We do have the silent — or not so silent — majority on our side,” he added. “Let’s get it done, from the school board level on up.”

Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 — attendees mingle in the lobby outside the main event hall (Vitaly Manzuk/TPUSA)

College student Megan McBridge told Breitbart News that it is “an amazing experience being surrounded by like-minded people who are ready to make a change,” and that TPUSA’s AmericaFest is “very much” a contrast to her hometown of Chicago, Illinois.

“Coming here gives me a community of people where I can become inspired to be more bold and more active in politics,” McBride said. “You can come alone and walk away with thousands of friends.”

Ian Dunn, a college student from Detroit, Michigan, told Breitbart News that the message he got from the event was, “Don’t be afraid to stand up for the truth.”

One college student who spoke to Breitbart News on Tuesday, however, did offer a bit of criticism:

“I felt that they should extend it a little longer,” said AmericaFest attendee Brayden Roe. “I know it already was a four-day event, but I feel like it could have been a little bit longer.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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