Amateur Radio Booth Proposed for “The Big E” in 2022

Hampden County Radio Association president Larry Krainson, W1AST, is coordinating an effort to organize an amateur radio booth at “The Big E” in West Springfield, Massachusetts for 2022. The exhibition runs for 17 days from September 17 through October 3, 2022. 

According to Wikipedia, “The Big E,” formally known as The Eastern States Exposition, is billed as ‘New England’s Great State fair.’ It is the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard and the sixth-largest fair in the nation.”

W1AST says the 2016 event had 1.4 million visitors, and over 1.6 million visitors in 2019. “If just one-tenth of one percent of attendees sign up for ham classes, that would be 1,600 names to distribute to all New England clubs. We would all benefit and grow ham radio.” 

There hasn’t been a ham radio exhibit/booth at The Big E in over ten years.

Larry envisions a ham radio booth that would demonstrate the many aspects of ham radio, as well as an avenue for people to sign up for information and courses in their local area.

Some of his ideas include:

  • an EMCOMM display
  • DMR and/or other digital mobile mode demo
  • Digital HF modes on a big screen
  • A special event station (W1E or N1E or similar) with unique QSL cards
  • SSB, CW and digital modes
  • Demonstrate portable stations for field operation (i.e., Parks On The Air, Summits On The Air)
  • Highlight youth in ham radio

W1AST says he’d like to see clubs from different states staff the booth during “State” days and theme days. 

“If there is enough interest, we have lots of time to plan.”

Such an undertaking can succeed only if there is a sufficient number of volunteers and radio clubs who agree to participate in the event.  A special Groups.io mailing list group has been established to promote exchange of dialogue and ideas for the event. To join, send an email to ProjectBigE+subscribe@groups.io.

NEAR-Fest XXIX May 2021 Deerfield NH Cancelled!

Dear Friends of NEAR-Fest…..

I am sure that just about everyone knew this was coming but this makes it is official.

Given the current Coronavirus situation with new cases reported every day at astronomical levels (on January 8th there were 7,110 in Mass. alone) and the fact that the vaccination process is running behind schedule we have decided that April 30th/May 1st 2021 is far too soon to hold NEAR-Fest XXIX and guarantee that it will safe for all.  Consequently I have this day notified the Deerfield Fair Association that we have decided to cancel it.

This decision was not taken lightly but it is also a no brainer.  There are no options.  As you know this is the third NEAR – Fest that had to be cancelled because of Covid-19.  The good news is that NEAR-Fest XXX is scheduled for October 15th and 16th, 2021 and, for the first time since this started, I am fully confident this will be our grand “NEAR-Fest Homecoming!”

Advance tickets and parking passes that were sold for NEAR- Fest XXIX will be valid for NEAR-Fest-XXX.  However anyone wanting a full refund may have it.  Email w1rc@near-fest.com for details. 

For more information visit http://forum.near-fest.com/index.php?topic=1522.0

73 and see you all on October 15th

Mister Mike, W1RC
Benevolent Dictator
New England Amateur Radio Festival, Inc.

NEAR-Fest and the Road Ahead

Dear Friends of NEAR-Fest:
 
Now that NEAR-Fest XXVII and XXVIII have been cancelled there are some important issues with which we must deal…..
 
First, this is going to be a major hit on our treasury because, notwithstanding the reason we are being canceled, we have contracts that need to be honored. 2019 was, as you may remember, was plagued with wet weather for both May and October. Attendance was down and so are our cash reserves. Consequently, the hard facts are that we need to raise some new capital starting this Fall if NEAR-Fest is to survive. 
 
In order to do this beginning soon we will be selling advance admission tickets for NEAR-Fest XXIX ($10.00) and inside parking passes ($10.00) either at Ham Radio Outlet in Salem NH and Ross Hochstrasser’s Clock Shop, 40 Walnut Street, Whitman MA as well as by mail to Michael Crestohl, W1RC, 316 Atlantic Avenue, Marblehead MA 01945 with a check or money order and a SASE. 
 
The exciting thing about the advance tickets are that all purchasers of advance tickets will be entered in a special prize drawing for either a Xiegu G90 HF SDR Transceiver (value $425.00) or a Yaesu FT-891 HF Mobile Transceiver (value $559.00). Winner does NOT have to be present to win. 
 
We are going to offer a special “VIP Pass” to NEAR-Fest for those who really want to see us through this difficult and trying time. It will be good for the person to whom it was issued for life, allow that person and the occupants of their vehicle (up to four people) and the vehicle to enter at 8:00 AM on Friday morning. Cost of this VIP Pass is $250.00 and is available by mail only.
 
Additionally, the cost of admission at the Fairgrounds will be increased to $15.00. This added $5.00 is to help alleviate the cost of not having NEAR-Fest XXVII but advance ticket buyers will be able to save this $5.00 per ticket surcharge.  I cannot tell you at this time if this $5.00 surcharge will be permanent. Once we are financially comfortable again we will decide whether or not to restore the cost to $10.00. 
 
In the event that the May 2021 event cannot be held any tickets or passes purchased will be valid and honored at the next NEAR-Fest so no one will lose.
 
We are asking our association and clubs if they can help us sell advance tickets to their members. The procedure will be simple and straightforward. Clubs would determine how many tickets and parking passes their members want, collect the money, send the list with this information along with a check payable to NEAR-Fest to us. We would take care of making sure that the prize draw stubs are properly filled in and put in the prize barrel for the drawing in July. After that takes place we would ensure they are kept safe so they can be put in the prize barrel at NEAR-Fest in May.  The tickets would be sent to the club for distribution to the members. Members should be informed that they are buying admission tickets for our fall event. They are not buying a raffle ticket. However there is no limit on the number of tickets anyone may purchase. Drawing will take place at NEAR-Fest XXIX in May 2021. 
 
Secondly, clubs who have already applied for the 2020 Association and Club Early Entry passes will not have to reapply again in January 2021. 
 
With your help we will survive this horrific nightmare.
 
73,
Mister Mike

HamXposition First Postponed, Now Going Virtual

Hello All,

Large indoor gatherings such as our convention are currently prohibited by Massachusetts state law. This is highly unlikely to change by November.  Unfortunately, we will not be able to hold a physical convention this year.

However, we do plan some virtual activities, all free.  We are currently working on the details for these and will keep you posted as they develop:

We plan to the operate the W1A special event station over the weekend of October 31st – November 1st. To avoid a conflict with the November Sweepstakes, we moved this to one week earlier. W1A will be operated from the operator’s home stations.  Dennis, W1UE, is coordinating the schedule.  If you would like to be a W1A operator, please contact W1UE by email at w1ue@hamxposition.org.  For those who would like to work W1A, we will be posting the operating schedule once it is ready.  Note that this will give regular attendees the unique opportunity to work W1A (something which would have been more difficult for many to do operating portable from a hotel room).

We will also be hosting a Saturday evening virtual banquet on November 7th, featuring a guest speaker. There will be no charge for this event.  Order your favorite take-out or delivery, pull up a chair to your screen and join your friends for an interesting presentation.  After the talk, virtual break-out rooms will be available for you to converse with your “table”.

The Nashua Area Radio Club will be running an online version of the “Ham Boot Camp”. This is a multisession program for hams young and old to learn about the various activities they can do with their license.  Details to follow.

Eastern Mass ARES will be running online versions of their training sessions. Details to follow.

From the entire HamXposition committee, we wish you good health, be safe, and we look forward to seeing everyone in person at our 2021 convention on July 23-24-25, 2021.

73,
Bob – K1IW
Chairman, HamXposition 2020

Fall NEAR-Fest Cancelled

Many radio amateurs and hobbyists in the Northeast already know that the Deerfield Fair Association voted reluctantly but overwhelmingly to cancel the 2020 Fair at a special meeting on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020.

Ben, KB1NZN, and I are members and were at the meeting.  We both voted for cancellation and totally agree with the decision of the Deerfield Fair Association membership who voted 105 to 5 in favor of cancelling the Fair.  There was not one good reason put forth during the discussion in favor of holding the Fair this year.

Especially in these unprecedented times our first responsibility must be to the health and well-being of our volunteer staff, exhibitors, attendees, fairgrounds staff and the local area residents who graciously welcome us twice a year to their community.  We cannot betray this trust.

Furthermore there is no possible way we can realistically maintain the six foot “social distancing” separation especially in the flea market, commercial buildings, forums and VE examination rooms.  This is required whenever possible by the NH Governor’s Special Covid-19 Task Force.

Consequently, as a result, we have no option except to cancel NEAR-Fest XXVIII.

However the good news is that NEAR-Fest XXIX is already scheduled for Friday April 30th and Saturday May 1st 2021 and NEAR-Fest XXX for October 12th and 13th 2021.

We will be selling advance tickets starting in the Fall.  For advance ticket buyers the cost of admission will remain at $10.00 per person.   However starting next Spring the price of admission at the gate will be $15.00. Inside parking and camping fees will remain the same.  I will post additional information about advance ticket sales in the Fall.

We know this isn’t going to be a popular decision but with the Fair cancelling I think we would create some ill-will in the area if we show up ten days later.  This may affect us later down the road.  I am sure many of the locals are relieved to know we are staying away this time…..

Also attendance would surely be very low and we would probably lose money.  Lat’s wait six more months and return in style when it is safe.

73,
Michael Crestohl, aka “MisterMike”, W1RC
Benevolent Dictator,
New England Amateur Radio Festival, Inc.

HamExposition Postponed Until Nov 6-8

I hope this messages finds you safe and healthy.   After long consideration, the convention committee has decided to postpone the 2020 convention to the week of November 6 through 8. 
 
There are several reasons for this, the first and foremost is the health and well-being of our attendees.   In addition, there are many logistical problems with holding the convention in July, even under the most favorable conditions of the pandemic emergency being over by then.
 
1. We believe it is unlikely that the state’s ban on large gatherings will be completely lifted by the end of July.
 
2. Even if it were, we believe attendance will be severely impacted due to lingering (and quite appropriate caution).
 
3. Almost all of our exhibitors are unwilling to commit to anything prior to June.
 
4. The convention is subject to penalties for cancellation.  The penalties increase as we get closer to the convention date.  By moving to November, we move out the schedule on these penalties.  This will allow us to reassess the viability of the convention in early August.  By then we will have further insight into  prevailing conditions.
 
5. The November weekend was the only one available to us – and could be lost to another group if we did not act on it.
 
We know that many look forward to attending each year, and have probably grown weary of all the cancellations of events like these.  However, given the reality of the situation, we believe it is in everyone’s best interest to postpone.
 
 
Stay safe & 73,
 
Bob – K1IW
Chairman
Northeast HamXposition 2020

NEAR-Fest XXVII Status Report

 
The big question for the last several weeks has been: Is NEAR-Fest XXVII scheduled for May going to be canceled? The answer sadly now is yes.
 
On March 26th the NH Governor issued Emergency Order 17 which is a “stay-at-home” advisory in effect from Friday, March 27th through Monday May 4th 2020. This Order cancels all gatherings over 10 persons during that time period. This obviously includes us.
 
Henceforth NEAR-Fest XXVII will be known as the “one that didn’t happen”. Now that that has been decided for us we first will need to determine what the financial impact of this will be. Some hard decisions may have to be made. I shall be in touch with you all soon to let you know what we will need to do going forward.
 
In the meantime we all need to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy throughout these unprecedented and challenging times. This means as much isolation as possible. But remember, amateur radio is the original “social distancing” so stay home and play radio.
 
The NEAR-Fest staff and management thank you for all your support for the past 14 years and we look forward to serving the amateur radio community for years to come.
 
73,
Mister Mike, W1RC Benevolent Dictator

Algonquin ARC Hamfest

The Algonquin Amateur Radio Club will be holding its annual hamfest at 1Lt Charles W. Whitcomb Middle School at 25 Union St. in Marlborough, MA.  The hamfest is very popular among hams in both the Eastern MA and the eastern portions of the Western MA ARRL sections.

The hamfest will be held on Saturday, February 15, 2020 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  General admission is $5 and includes a chance at the $200 Cash Door Prize.

An amateur radio exam session will be run at the hamfest at 9:00 AM for those how wish to get licensed or upgrade.

Vendors may reserve 6 foot tables at the hamfest at $15 each if purchased by February 7, 2018 ($20.00 each accepted at the door if space is available).  Vendors may arrive at 6:30 AM for setup.  For more information or to reserve a table, contact Tim Ikeda KA1OS at 1-508-919-6136 before 9:00 PM or email fleamarket@n1em.org.  A mail in order form is also available on the bottom of the hamfest’s official flyer.

Talk in will be on the MMRA Marlboro repeater system: 147.27+ (pl 146.2).

WMA Section Manager Ray Lajoie KB1LRL is planning on attending the hamfest.

Hope to see you there!

2020 Northeast HamXposition: New Venue and New Date!

Northeast HamXposition 2019 General Chair Mike Raisbeck, K1TWF, wrote to convention vendors and exhibitors on January 23, 2020:
 
To all our vendors, past, present, and (we hope) future:
 
Northeast HamXposition at Boxboro, the New England ARRL Division Convention, is now four months behind us. The 2019 show went well.  The gate remained steady. Attendance at the banquets, forums, and flea market was solid, and there were many smiling faces. We have a formula that works well.
 
So now it’s time for us to raise the bar.  Some big changes are coming to the Northeast HamXposition.
 
The biggest is a change of date and venue.  Going forward, the Northeast HamXposition will be held at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel & Trade Center, 181 Boston Post Rd., Marlborough, MA, on the 4th full weekend of July.  This year, the dates are July 24, 25, and 26.  Reserve that weekend – we have it nailed down for the next 5 years at least.
 
Why change?  There are several reasons:
  1. The Royal Plaza has considerably more parking, and plenty of flea market space.  It’s a nice, clean, large, and up-to-date venue
  2. The Boxboro site was having trouble making commitments to us for the adjoining parking lot.  It was only a matter of time before we found ourselves, on short notice, without sufficient parking.
  3. The Royal Plaza has an adjacent Trade Center complex.  While we won’t need to use it this year, we want to have enough expansion space that we can hold a National Convention some time in the next few years
  4. The Boxboro facility is, frankly, a getting a bit timeworn.
  5. The Royal Plaza has other adjacent hotels, as well as numerous restaurants and other shops – far more than the Boxboro location
  6. Unlike the current convention, the 4th weekend of July doesn’t conflict with the September VHF contest
 
We’re scrambling to update our forms and procedures.  I’ll be sending out another message shortly, as soon as these are all in order.
 
Please reserve the date, July 24-26.  We would love to see you there!
 
73,
Mike Raisbeck, K1TWF
Northeast HamXposition vendor chair

Fall 2019 NEAR-Fest

NEAR-Fest

The next New England Amateur Radio Festival will be Friday and Saturday October 11 and 12.

NEAR-Fest is an international event run by and for all radio hobbyists and enthusiasts, including hams, short-wave listeners, scanner buffs, vintage/antique radio fans, etc. NEAR-Fest is held twice annually, spring and fall, rain or shine, at the Deerfield Fairgrounds, Deerfield NH beginning on Friday at 0900 and ending Saturday at 1500 hours.

The program of activities and events at NEAR-Fest is extensive; a huge outdoor electronic flea market, three buildings full of commercial vendors, forums, technical seminars and symposia, demonstrations, exhibits, displays, licensing examinations, special events radio stations, a “jam session”, good food, fellowship, fun and general mishigoss. NEAR-Fest is the largest event of its kind in the Northeast and has once been described as the “Woodstock of Amateur Radio”.

NEAR-Fest typically attracts attendees from the six New England states, NY, NJ, PA, MD and other states as well as from Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Canada. Some attendees travel great distances; one gentleman from Los Angeles has attended fifteen events and in 2010 one radio amateur traveled from Greece to join us for the fun. It is a perennial attraction for many hams in the Western MA section.

Hope to see you there!