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Over the last few years I have heard folks say that Hamfest are becoming a thing of the past, I don't think so, Hamfest are alive and very well, no matter how small or big, they are not going away. We all are always looking for bargains in radio equipment, and parts, you the amateur radio operator are the folks who can make Hamfest great, there is a lot of planning to put on a Hamfest , its not just something that is done over night. Finding the best location, letting everyone know in advance where, what time and day, getting dealers to attend, what kind of food that will be available, hoping for a beautiful day to have on, that your Hamfest doesn't fall on the same day as another, and that all information is made public via media and social networks and websites, so that all are aware of it.
Here is some information that I wanted to share with everyone..
Depending on how much you like collecting and bargaining, hamfests or a ham radio convention might be for you. Despite online retail being everywhere, hamfests — ham radio flea markets — continue to be some of the most interesting events in ham radio. Imagine a bazaar crammed with technological artifacts spanning nearly a century, old and new, small and massive, tubes, transistors, computers, antennas, batteries … you’re probably worn out just thinking about it.
Ham radio conventions have a much broader slate of activities than hamfests do; they may include seminars, speakers, licensing test sessions, and demonstrations of new gear. Some conventions host competitive activities such as foxhunts or direction finding, or they may include a swap meet along with the rest of the functions. Conventions usually have a theme, such as emergency operations, QRP, or digital radio transmissions.
In the United States, the best place to find hamfests is ARRL’s Hamfests and Conventions Calendar. Search for events by location or ARRL section or division. The calendar usually lists about 100 hamfests. Most metropolitan areas have several good-size hamfests every year, even in the dead of winter.
After you have a hamfest in your sights, set your alarm for early morning, and get ready to be there at the opening bell. Although most are Saturday-only events, more and more are opening on Friday afternoon.
Be sure to bring the following things:
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After parking, waiting, and shuffling along in line, you finally make it inside the gates, and you’re ready to bargain. No two hamfests are alike, of course, but here are some general guidelines to live by, particularly for hamfest newcomers:
Conventions tend to be more extravagant affairs, held in hotels or conventions centers, that are advertised in ham radio magazines as well as online. The main purposes are programs, speakers, and socializing.
The one largest ham radio conventions are the Dayton , held in Ohio in mid-May, and Dayton regularly draws more than 20,000 hams.. Dayton has mammoth flea markets, an astounding array of programs, internationally known speakers, and more displays than you can possibly see.
ARRL national and division conventions are held all over the United States. These conventions typically attract a few hundred to a few thousand people and are designed to be family friendly. They also provide a venue for specialty groups to host conferences within the overall event. These smaller conferences offer extensive programs on regional disaster and emergency communications, direction finding, QRP, county hunting, wireless networking on ham bands, and so on.
Some conventions and conferences emphasize one of ham radio’s many facets, such as DXing, VHF and UHF operating, or digital technology. If you’re a fan of a certain mode or activity, treating yourself to a weekend convention is a great way to meet hams who share your tastes and to discover more about your interests.
And don't forget, its a great place to meet operators you talk too, always great fellowship, have fun, buy -sell-trade, and its a great way to get folks who are not amateur radio operators into this great hobby !!
Sevier County Hamfest is growing fast, for 2020 the expected attendance is well over a 1000, and is the largest Hamfest in East TN with 17 acres ,inside and outside Boneyard, Commercial Dealers, Clubs & Organizations, and much more. This last year we had folks from all over the Eastern US join us, so set your date for March 28th,2020 and come join us.. Rain or Shine !!