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. The term "Hamfests" was noted as early as 1924 in the U.S.


Hamfests or Rally’s are events organized by amateur radio enthusiasts, for social gathering, education, sales, and promotion of the hobby. Typically, annual or semi-annual events are 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 for sale by manufacturers, too used, refurbished, or even antique equipment.

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 largest events worldwide include these are events where manufacturers commonly introduce new products to the amateur radio marketplace worldwide.

  • The Dayton Ohio Hamvention
  • The International DX Convention in Visalia California
  • The HAM RADIO event in Friedrichshafen, Germany
  • The Central Coast Amateur Radio Club Field Day near Sydney in Australia


In the United States, hamfests are a popular tradition; regularly scheduled hamfests in the USA begin with an event such as a pancake 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 charity.


In the current century, the Internet has come to be used to advertise and sell ham radio equipment, in some cases diminishing the sales of useful used equipment at local hamfests. Thus, hamfests' social and educational aspects have become more of a reason to attend 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 other related technology components like computers and computer parts and software are also for sale at these events.


The Dayton Hamvention is generally considered to be the world's largest hamfest. It is held each May. This year the dates are May 17th – 19th. Older hams remember this event being 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 gigantic 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 few hundred local attendees.

The second largest hamfest in North America is the winter Orlando HamCation in Orlando, Florida with over 19,000 visitors per year. This February event is 72 years running with next years event scheduled for Feb 7th – 9th 2020.

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 larger west coast hamfests are SEA-PAC in Seaside, Oregon. This year SEAPAC will be held on the weekend of May 31st – June 2nd.

The other one is PACIFICON held in San Ramon California this year it’s on October 18 – 20th.

The largest hamfest in Canada is 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 is just a few weeks away on March 23rd.

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 good listing of Canadian Hamfests can be found on the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) website or in the TCA magazine. Talk to local club members for suggestions on BC based ham fests that are popular to attend, most being in the lower mainland.

Looking Internationally, in 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 annually, 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 21st – 23rd . 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 31st – Sept 1st 2019. In 2018, they had about 39,000 participants over the two days.


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

QuartzFest 2020 is an annual ARRL Specialty Convention , it’s held each January near Quartzsite, Arizona in the south west 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 empty desert space, and immerse themselves in this week-long one-of-a-kind ham radio, camping, learning and living event. Think of it as an open space of level desert land that over a few days becomes a small village of campers and RV’s. A week later it’s just empty desert again.


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 2020 which always 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 you’re interested in attending one.


Canadian Vintage Radio Swapmeet Sunday, March 17, 2019 BURNABY B.C.

CHARLES RUMMEL PARK corner of Lozells Avenue and Government Rd. Burnaby B.C.


Antique radio swap meet, Radios , Parts, Tubes ,Books etc.and some free items

For more info:   http://canadianvintageradio.com/contact/


On April 6th , from 10 AM to 1 PM, the Richmond Amateur Radio Club (RARC) will be hosting its annual Swap Meet and Emergency Communications Display 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. There will be coffee, beverages and snacks. General admission is $5 per person, with free admission to children 12 years and under.


The "Lucky Seven" swap meet Sponsored by Comox Valley Amateur Radio Club:  Sunday, April 7, 2019

Florence Filberg Centre in Courtenay, B.C.

Opening times: Vendors: 8:30 AM, Buyers: 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM,.

Cost:      Tables: $20.00 for sellers and shoppers are $5.00

Talk-in frequency: VE7RCV, 146.780- (141.3 hz)

Webpage:           http://comoxvalleyamateurradio.ca


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. 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. Location: 12460 Harris Road, Pitt Meadows, BC