A Hamfest is a convention of amateur radio enthusiasts, often combining a trade show, flea market, and various other activities of interest to amateur radio operators. In the United Kingdom the term rally is more commonly used for amateur radio conventions. "Hamfests" were noted as early as 1924 in the U.S.


Hamfests are events organized by amateur radio enthusiasts, for social gathering and promotion of the amateur radio hobby. Typically annual or semi-annual events held over a weekend, they can last from several hours to several days. Most feature a flea market where the attendees buy and sell radio and related equipment. The equipment found at a hamfest can vary significantly from the newest high-tech gear to used, refurbished, or even antique equipment. Haggling or bargaining is the most common means of sale. Equipment that originally sold at great expense to commercial users (such as public safety agencies) can often be found at a fraction of the price. Likewise, accessories which are no longer available from manufacturers may be found, and many sales of complete systems are made to buyers who only need one or two components. Junk boxes are common, frequently containing scraps and remnants from finished projects or equipment long-since gone. Some hamfests feature demonstration and sales booths manned by vendors and manufacturers of commercial amateur radio equipment. Hamfests likely will also include meetings of amateur radio clubs, seminars on technical, operational, or legal aspects of amateur radio, and license examination sessions.


The Dayton, Ohio Hamvention, the International DX Convention, the HAM RADIO event in Friedrichshafen, Germany, and the Central Coast Amateur Radio Club Field Day near Sydney in Australia are events where manufacturers most commonly introduce new products to the amateur radio marketplace.


In the United States, hamfests are a popular tradition; at regularly scheduled hamfests in the USA begin with an event such as a waffle breakfast, with proceeds going to the sponsoring organization or a worthy charity. Larger hamfests almost always include one or more food vendors, staffed by volunteers, with the proceeds going to a local high school or other charity.


It is not unknown for a seller to ask more for a single part from the box than for the entire box, the intent being to have less stuff when it's time to go home than the seller arrived with. Larger old items are often referred to as boat anchors due to their size, weight, or extreme age. Numerous jokes are based on this concept, and some sellers will tie ropes to handles, or post signs on especially large and heavy items. Regular attendees often visit their first hamfest in search of some piece of equipment, but end up returning due to the social aspect.


In the current century, the Internet has come to be used to advertise and sell ham radio equipment, downgrading the sales of useful used equipment at all hamfests. Thus, hamfests' social aspects have become more of a reason to attend as well as to learn from the numerous lecturers and forums. Door prizes and raffles also occur. Also, inspection of the vast array of commercially made new radio equipment (conveniently available in one place) and the extensive inclusion of computers and computer parts and software for sale rise in importance at these events.


The Dayton Hamvention is generally considered to be the world's largest hamfest. It is held each May, for many many years it was held at the Hara Arena in Trotwood, Ohio near Dayton, but in just the last few years it’s moved to the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia, Ohio. The Hamvention offers forums, exhibiter space and a flea market. Average attendance is around 25,000 visitors. Many amateur radio enthusiasts go out of their way to attend the Hamvention, travelling from all over the United States, Canada, Mexico and various parts of the world and even as far as Australia, Japan and Russia.

Hamfests of course can also be held on much more local scale being as small as a only a few hundred local attendees.

The second largest hamfest in North America is the Orlando HamCation in Orlando, Florida with over 19,000 visitors per year. This event is 72 years running.

Smaller regional hamfests include the 60 year old Shelby Hamfest in North Carolina, hosting 5,000 to 7,000 visitors per year, the Huntsville Hamfest in Alabama, Ham-Com in the Dallas area.

The largest hamfest in New England is the New England Amateur Radio Festival, commonly known as NEAR-Fest, which is held twice a year at the Deerfield Fairgrounds in Deerfield, New Hampshire.

The largest west coast hamfests are SEA-PAC in the Pacific Northest held each year in Seaside, Oregon. This year SEAPAC will be held on the weekend of June 1st to 3rd.

The other one is PACIFICON held in San Ramon California on October 19 - 21, 2018.


Two of the largest Hamfests in Canada are HAM-EX, held by the Peel Amateur Radio Club (PeelARC) and the Mississauga Amateur Radio Club (MARC), it’s held once a year at the Brampton Fall Fairgrounds just north of Brampton, Ontario. This year the event it March 17th.

The York Region Amateur Radio Club, also hosts their annual York Region Hamfest on a weekend in November at the Markham Fairgrounds.  They call it the THE PREMIER INDOOR AMATEUR RADIO & ELECTRONICS EVENT IN CANADA

Both of these Hamfests typically attract over a thousand visitors each year. Many smaller Hamfests are also held in every province across Canada each year. A full listing of Canadian Hamfests can be found on the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) website.

This year RAC is hosting their annual general meeting RAC Annual General Meeting on Saturday, June 16 at the Annual Red Deer Picnic and Hamfest in central Alberta. The Radio Amateurs of Canada is pleased to hold its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Red Deer this year as part of the year-long celebration of RAC’s 25th Anniversary Celebration. The AGM event will be hosted by the Central Alberta Amateur Radio Club and will be held in conjunction with the 2018 Annual Red Deer Picnic and Hamfest which is being held at the same location. Visit the RAC website for more detailed information on the weekend long event.


Looking International in Western Australia, the biggest Hamfest is run by the Northern Corridor Radio Group. They held their first few at the former Carine TAFE College site. Following its closure their hamfests have been held in Bassendean, a suburb of Perth. In years past they have seen demonstrations of military radio equipment and demonstrations of large tesla coils. These were in addition to the "bring and buy" tables and stands for various retailers and groups.


The International Exhibition for Radio Amateurs known as HAM RADIO in Friedrichshafen, Germany, is Europe's largest and most well-known hamfest with over 17,000 visitors in 2015, this large show includes a trade show and "youth days". The first HAM RADIO German event took place in 1976 with 62 exhibitors. This year HAM RADIO is happening on June 1st – 3rd . HAM RADIO attracts exhibitors and visitors from more than 32 countries all round the world. A special feature of HAM RADIO is the combination of commercial exhibitors, worldwide networked associations and Europe’s largest radio flea market with some 280 participants from 16 countries. The main partner of the convention is the DARC (Deutsche Amateur Radio Club)

In India, Hamfest has been popular since 1991. In 2009, it was held in Bangalore, along with Golden Jubilee celebrations of Bangalore Amateur Radio Club VU2ARC Two ham conventions, with mostly forums, were held by the National Institute of Amateur Radio in Hyderabad in recent years which uniquely coupled the events with major DXpeditions, allowing foreign hams to operate from the rare locales of Andaman India and Lakshadweep India.


Japan, the primary source for the majority of new commercially made ham equipment, hosts at least one large annual hamfest with world-wide attendees each year. The JARL Ham Fair 2018 will be held at Tokyo Big Sight, Ariake, Tokyo on August 25th (Saturday) and 26th (Sunday). In 2017, they had about 39,000 participants over the two days.

If you’re looking for a unique ham gathering you may wish to check out events like Quartzfest.

QuartzFest 2018, celebrating its 21st anniversary, is an annual ARRL Specialty Convention , this year it was held on January 21 to 27, 2018 near Quartzsite, Arizona in the United States. No other hamfest in the world brings together in one gathering so much innovation in mobile antenna systems, mobile ham shacks, recreational vehicles, portable and mobile EMCOMM systems, off-the-grid living, alternative energy and radio education. A Very Unique Ham Radio Gathering QuartzFest is special in part because it comes to life each year, rising from nothing in a remote area of the Sonoran desert in the southwestern USA. Hundreds of Hams and their families and friends choose to unplug from their daily lives, travel to and setup this desert community, and immerse themselves in this week-long one-of-a-kind ham radio, camping, learning and living event.


The educational classes at QuartzFest offer something for everyone including those new to ham radio or even the most seasoned veteran. They give participants the chance to put hands-on the latest technology, learn ham radio for the first time, study advanced radio theory and to even take a glimpse into the future of radio science. The learning also continues well-beyond the technical lectures all the way from morning coffee... through social events, music, arts and crafts classes during the day... and into the evening while sitting around the campfire or while star-gazing.

Feel feel to join them in 2019 which promises to be one of the most exciting editions of this very unique and special ham radio gathering.


To wrap things up this evening I’m going to provide some information on Hamfest and Swap meets within BC in the coming months. In case your interested in attending one.

On Saturday, April 7th , from 9 AM to 12:30 PM, the Richmond Amateur Radio Club (RARC) will be hosting its second annual Swap Meet and Emergency Communications Display at the South Arm United Church in Richmond, BC. Along with vendor tables, door prizes from local and national suppliers, and special raffles they expect a large display of Amateur radio emergency communications equipment and activities, inside and outdoors (weather permitting), by the local clubs and municipal emergency programs. The ‘RAR Café’ will be there to provide coffee, beverages and snacks. General admission is $5 per person, with free admission to children 12 years and under.


On May 6 @ 09:00 – 12:00 The Maple Ridge Amateur Radio Club presents the Fraser Valley’s largest HAM RADIO COMPUTER and ELECTRONICS SWAP MEET. The location will be  12460 Harris Road, Pitt Meadows, BC. There will be vendor tables, door prizes and both a pancake and sausage breakfast, as well as hots dogs and drinks for lunch available onsite.


The Arrowsmith Amateur Radio Club is hosting their Swap Meet on Saturday, May 26, 2018 in Port Alberni. It will be held at the Alberni Valley Rescue Hall. 4790 Tebo Ave. Beside the Co-op gas station on Johnston Rd. and across from McDonalds . Opening times: 10am-11am for sellers set up . Open 11:00 for business till 1:00pm. The Talk-in frequency is the VE7KU Repeater. 147.240+ tone 141.3hz. The Door Prize is a Kenwood TM 281A (supplied by Radioworld). Extra tickets can be bought on the radio at $2.00 a piece.