by Kyle Krieg, AAØZ
Winterfest 2019 was a huge success this year. The event brought in more than 175 tables of commercial and flea market vendors and over 1000 attendees during the five hour event. I want to thank Rebecca (KC9CIJ) for her hard work and all the volunteers over the two days that gave their time to make this event successful. One of the overwhelming comments I received as I walked around the tables on Saturday was the load in/out help the volunteers provide every year. This little bit of help goes a long way in the eyes of the vendors, which I believe makes our hamfest stand out from the rest. I also want to thank all the vendors and attendees that make Winterfest successful. There were a lot of familiar faces and a lot of new faces, which I hope come back next year. I was amazed at the amount of new hams attending, which is great! They are the future of this hobby and getting new hams to events like this only make it stronger. Winterfest 2020 has a lot of new and exciting changes we are implementing, as we’ve already started the planning process. Winterfest 2020 is Jan 25th, so mark your calendars!
I traveled to Hamcation this year in FL, as this was my 2nd year attending. If you’re not familiar with Hamcation, it’s the 2nd largest hamfest in the US behind Dayton. It’s great to get to Florida in February, as the sunshine does your mental health some good from the cold Missouri weather. One aspect of hamfests I love are good forums and the “one on one” face time you get with big vendors. I always try and attend as many forums as I can as you never know who you might bump into, learn and take away from one. I also took note of all the technology and updates announced at Hamcation this year. Flex announced new software to allow more than one connection to their radios and Yaesu announced some exciting upgrades regarding using an existing mobile or HT radios to connect directly to the Wires-X network. I got to demo all the new features for both these companies at Hamcation and ask questions directly to those who help define the future of this hobby. To be relevant in this hobby anymore, vendors need to update their hardware, give hams more features in a better or cheaper package. They also need to use social media to advertise and show the amateur radio community what features their product has to stand apart from the rest. Any manufacturer, big or small, has to be innovative within the ham radio shack (antennas, tuners, amplifiers, coax, etc..). I’m always glad to see vendors push the envelope and bring out new products that help drive new technologies and make ham radio exciting.
I’m always amazed at the amount of people and the different aspects of the hobby ham radio has to offer at hamfests. I don’t know about you, but I always return home more excited about getting on the air after attending a great hamfest. If you’re into digital formats, vintage radio, CW key collecting or working satellites, there is something for you at any hamfest. This holds true for large or small hamfests in your city or region. SLSRC has a page dedicated to listing all the local and regional hamfests in the area located at https://www.slsrc.org/upcoming-area-hamfests/ so take a look at this page and plan to attend a local hamfest. You never know who you might bump into or learn during the event or what you might learn and take away.