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Clubs, Contests & Events - A forum to discuss upcoming events, contests and to discuss local clubs and club activities.

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Old 08-16-2018, 7:25 PM
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Default hamfests: size and attendance

I suspect hamfests are organized by a local radio club.

What I'm wondering is the size and duration of hamfests. I recall some along the east coast going to two days. I don't recall which one that was.

And of course Dayton Hamvention is fairly well known and even goes to a third day.

Just wanted to contrast it with the local ones here: the hamfests around here in CO usually are one day events, usually only 4 or 5 hours total before it's called a wrap! Fortunately there are enough small clubs in the region that one holds one every 3 or so months, though each only have one per year. Not only this, the vendor attendance is fairly small, I would estimate there are usually no more than ~80 tables per event, some dropped to the ~30 tables mark and struggle for attendance. On the positive side, the event is done completely indoors - no rain, no mud, and tend to have electricity readily available for demos.

The realization is that this was somewhat meant to be a fundraiser for the club, but is it purely club size or is it simply how many hams there are in a particular region that determines how "big" each hamfest is? Anyone find that these 4 hour hamfests once a year as "tiny"? (Start at 8AM, everyone's gone by 12PM that day). Also the building or lot rentals, typically done at county fairgrounds, I suspect also costs some money but not sure how much that goes for.

BTW, the CO-specifics: I've only gone to the LARC, BARC, ARA, NCARC, DRC hamfests (sorted ascending in average size, IMHO). PPRA is the next closest, but I find it too far to drive for a 4-hour event if it's anything like the ones I have went to. LARC's hamfest seems to be dying though they are working with BARC (they even share the same location) and perhaps another crafts club of sort to offset the building rental costs.
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Old 08-16-2018, 9:08 PM
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Central Texas hamfest tend to be 4 hours on Friday evening and about 6 more on Saturday. Seems to be one, maybe two commercial dealers selling new equipment at most of them.

The biggest one is a twice a year event in April and October. It is the biggest because the sponsoring club picked the two months with the best compromise of not to hot, not to cold weather and a large indoor tailgate area.
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Old 08-16-2018, 10:57 PM
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Some of the factors in how big a hamfest is are:
* How big of an event center can be used (availability, cost, etc. are all factors).
* What features can easily be supported by that event center (indoor only, outdoor only, both indoor/outdoor space, etc.).
* What type of parking is available (number of spaces, spaces for trailers, spaces for RVs, handicap spaces, etc.).
* Weather during the event's timeframe (too hot, too cold, rain, snow, etc. may hamper attendance).
* Nearby hotel space (both for rooms to stay in and for holding off-site meetings, dinners, etc.).
* Transportation (good roads, nearby commercial airport, etc.).
* Area attractions for spouses, families, etc. that aren't hams but may travel along with them.
* How big of a draw will that location have for hams interested and able to attend the event.
* How large of a club (or perhaps of several area clubs) that sponsor the event can work prior to, during, and after the event to make it happen.
* How does the event fit into the schedules of vendors, presenters, and organizations that can participate (and be a good draw for) your event.
* What sales tax (and other types of) laws may affect your event. It's very common that your city, county, state, and perhaps other taxing authorities will require your venders (and often private sellers) collect sales tax (and at the correct rates for the various types of items sold), collect and provide the necessary documentation to prove that the taxes were collected as required, and file the necessary paperwork and payments. Sales tax may sound easy, but it probably isn't as easy as you think. Various states have different rates for various items (yes, it can be as specialized as was that juice fresh from the fruit, frozen at any time, from concentrate, and perhaps even what percentage of pulp does it contain). Care must be taken to include all types of sales tax that is required to be charged in your event's location (e.g. 3% to the state, 4% to the city, 1% to the county and maybe even 2% to the entertainment district). Tax returns and payments may need to be made in bulk to the state or perhaps individual tax returns and payments must be made to the various taxing authorities (don't forget those special authorities that pay for an airport, sports stadium, special entertainment districts, etc.). On the "other laws" side, are there any special laws that prohibit or restrict what can be sold, when, and where is one example.
* Is parking free or does it cost to park. If there's a charge, who gets the money, your group, the event center, a company that handles the parking under contract for that center, etc..
* How large is your advertising budget for the event; the prize budget for the event; the budget for the signs, tickets, badges, food, supplies for your presentations (projectors, handouts, etc.), the chairs, tables, and screens to divide your space for the vendors; can you afford the extra time required for your venders to setup and tear down their displays prior to and after your event is over; security for your event (especially during the overnight hours for multi-day events). This is just a short list to get you thinking about everything you may need to budget for, not a comprehensive list.
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Old 08-17-2018, 12:34 AM
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How's the hamfests in your areas? Do they tend to be 2-day events, do you have more than 1 within reasonable driving distance? How many per year?

Wondering if it's better for one big one or many small ones...
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Old 08-17-2018, 6:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needairtime View Post
How's the hamfests in your areas? Do they tend to be 2-day events, do you have more than 1 within reasonable driving distance? How many per year?

Wondering if it's better for one big one or many small ones...
Every swap anywhere near me is once a year. After a few years, you'll pick and choose which ones to go to. For me, the swap isn't about buying stuff. Yeah, I'll pick up some nick naks and tidbits I really didn't need. But a swap for me is more about catching up with people every year.

My advice is to pick a few bigger ones. I go to 4 swaps a year, distance ranging from almost an hour to 3 hours one way to get there. The 3 hour drive is a 2-day swap in Fort Wayne. But I just go for the day. I go to Dayton about every 5 years. You have to do Dayton at least once. And once you go, you may decide to do it every year. Me, like I said, I go about every 5 years for just a day. I'm about 4 hours from Dayton.

There are more in my area that are closer, but they are small affairs that increasingly have more non-ham stuff than ham stuff, and not worth the drive. It's funny, the 4 closest swaps near me are all in the same building. Four different clubs are renting the same union hall at different times of the year for their swap. And IMO none of those swaps are worth the 20 minute drive and ticket price.

Last edited by Golay; 08-17-2018 at 6:19 AM..
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Old 08-17-2018, 8:31 AM
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I have noticed around here that the hamfests are not well advertised. There was one a few months back about 18 miles from me that I did not know about until 2 days before the event only because I saw it on a local classifieds site.

It is a decent size club, but their ARRL membership did not meet the publishing requirements, so they were not listed on the ARRL website. I have a problem with that, which is why I won't join the ARRL (among other things).

There needs to be one site that a club can list their event. Searching through 10 or 12 web sites every two to three weeks can be cumbersome, and quite often I forget to check unless I think about it, and even then some are not listed anywhere (or at least I cannot find them).

The ARRL should step up to the plate and support the hobby for the sake of the hobby, whether they get $$$ or not. What does it cost them to have a hamfest announcement on their website? Basically nothing, they just want the money through membership fees.

I will not support an organization that claims to fully support and back the hobby, but will not allow an advertisement that will promote that support of the hobby unless they are paid by at least 51% of the club members to be a sanctioned event. What a shame and missed opportunity.
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Old 08-17-2018, 11:26 AM
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Well, having 3-person clubs might also not be a good idea either, though ARRL should help out trying to unify them. Granted yes the fees are annoying but they too need funding -- though I don't know if they are trying to be "profitable" -- which would be a problem. I have no idea what club dues to ARRL is, or how much it costs to rent a venue to hold a hamfest, though perhaps the local club will leak this information to non-members for curiosity's sake.

At least the ARRL sanctioned/listed hamfests are actual hamfests and not something that they may put up but not end up holding or whatever. I did go to a hamfest once that only 15 vendors showed up, fortunately the club did end up going through with it though it may ultimately have been a loss to them.
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Old 08-19-2018, 2:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needairtime View Post
I suspect hamfests are organized by a local radio club.

What I'm wondering is the size and duration of hamfests. I recall some along the east coast going to two days. I don't recall which one that was.

And of course Dayton Hamvention is fairly well known and even goes to a third day.

Just wanted to contrast it with the local ones here: the hamfests around here in CO usually are one day events, usually only 4 or 5 hours total before it's called a wrap! Fortunately there are enough small clubs in the region that one holds one every 3 or so months, though each only have one per year. Not only this, the vendor attendance is fairly small, I would estimate there are usually no more than ~80 tables per event, some dropped to the ~30 tables mark and struggle for attendance. On the positive side, the event is done completely indoors - no rain, no mud, and tend to have electricity readily available for demos.

The realization is that this was somewhat meant to be a fundraiser for the club, but is it purely club size or is it simply how many hams there are in a particular region that determines how "big" each hamfest is? Anyone find that these 4 hour hamfests once a year as "tiny"? (Start at 8AM, everyone's gone by 12PM that day). Also the building or lot rentals, typically done at county fairgrounds, I suspect also costs some money but not sure how much that goes for.

BTW, the CO-specifics: I've only gone to the LARC, BARC, ARA, NCARC, DRC hamfests (sorted ascending in average size, IMHO). PPRA is the next closest, but I find it too far to drive for a 4-hour event if it's anything like the ones I have went to. LARC's hamfest seems to be dying though they are working with BARC (they even share the same location) and perhaps another crafts club of sort to offset the building rental costs.
My club been hosting a hamfest for the last 29 years running. Its billed as the largest in Southwest Missouri.

Two day fest, Friday for 7 hours and Saturday for 6 hours.

I'll let you google it if you like, do not want to break any rules on here with linking and what not...

"Joplin Hamfest".

From the moderator: It's not a RR forum rule violation to post a link to your club's hamfest unless your club is running it as a commercial enterprise. http://joplinhamfest.org/
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Last edited by W9BU; 08-19-2018 at 4:41 PM..
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:55 AM
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Another interesting thing is the admission price.

I think generally the vendor table prices are around $15 in advance, but the admission prices have been creeping up to $6 (I recall it being around $4 or so when I first went to these "tiny" local hamfests. This year's LARC hamfest admission they dropped to $3 as their vendor count seemed to have dropped further, but they were able to share with an arts&crafts club or something which had vendors as well. The crafts vendor count was on par with ham related tables, which I suspect defrayed the cost of the building rental and allowed the hamfest admission charge to go down slightly. I don't know! Also I think the admission for the crafts section was either free or something, and since the building was not cordoned off, I suspect people were skirting the hamfest admission by saying they were going to the crafts, which probably hurt LARC even more.

(As an aside, the one thing I hate at hamfests is that they stamp your hand. Yes I understand they want to let people come back without charging again after leaving, but I hate having ink on my hands, temporary or not (my skin is not for writing information, my own or anyone else, and I have no tattoos).)
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Old 08-20-2018, 3:00 PM
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I'll do the TRW swap meet (held monthly) about once a year. It's about an hour's drive each way, but on the legendary (infamous) 405 Freeway. Free admission and (usually) ample parking. Well organized. Mix of the usual commercial vendors selling connectors, cable and misc. electronic items plus hammy vendors and others with used computers and items that are marginally ham related. VE exam sessions as well.

I've found a few good deals on tools. Rather than make the drive, I'll sometimes just order online from one of the commercial vendors.
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