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Author Topic: Rockchester Hamfest  (Read 2385 times)
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W1ITT
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« Reply #25 on: June 22, 2013, 12:56:16 PM »

W1RC's June 20 remark that "Hosstraders was never intended to be more than a flea market.." has some truth to it...but is incomplete.  In fact, the three founders, Joe K1RQG (SK), Bob W1GWU and I originally intended the event as a social gathering to wind up the October through April on-air Hosstraders Net on 75 meters.  As I recall, someone had promised a BC-610 transformer to someone on the net and didn't want to mail it (!) and asked if people could bring a few things to set upon the tailgate.  Being fairly easy to get along with in those days, we said Yeah why not.  Thus started the flea market part of things.  Recall that in the early 70s, the tailgate flea market was not common, as most clubs ran auctions, where everyone sat in metal chairs, facing the auctioneer and were often requested to quiet down.  The concept of Hosstraders was face to face communication and fellowship.
Things were different in the 80s and 90s.  Before Ebay and the advent of online shopping, all one had to do to start a ham flea market was to announce a date and people would come.  The events with momentum succeeded.  We were at the right place in the right era, and our peak event (at Rochester NH) was about 6000 souls.  We did the flea market and commercial vendor thing pretty well, and had little inclination to add other stuff.  For a few years, the people who ran Boxboro were pretty worried about us presumably because our attendance numbers blew them away, sometimes managing to "lose" our paid ad submissions for QST, and of course one year they plunked Boxboro on our weekend, and expected us to back down. (We didn't and did just fine.)  As a matter of fact, we weren't in competition.  They had a nice convention and a mediocre flea market, while we had a nice flea market and no convention stuff.   No worries there, at least for Hosstraders.  And we managed to give away $1.3 Million to the Shriners' Hospitals, something that never occurred to us when we started out.
It is true that the three of us who ran Hosstraders were not much interested in complicated events that would cause us more work.  We acceded to the wishes of those who wanted VE
Exams, but it was always a lot of bother.  There were a number of nets and on-air groups that regularly gathered, and that was just fine with us.
It's a bit unfair to compare the current crops of amateur radio gatherings to those of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.  Those were different times, with different circumstances.  It's not merely a matter of nostalgia...
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Steve - K4HX
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« Reply #26 on: June 22, 2013, 01:27:45 PM »

As recently as 2008, numbers in the 8000-12,000 range were claimed for the attendance at the Shelby, NC hamfest. I don't think it is quite the large lately, but it seems to still be quite robust.
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W1RC
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« Reply #27 on: June 23, 2013, 01:38:59 AM »

It's a bit unfair to compare the current crops of amateur radio gatherings to those of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.  Those were different times, with different circumstances.  It's not merely a matter of nostalgia...
I agree....it's not the same demographics and economic scenarios either.  Times have changed.

Hams from the 70s and 80s were "old school" in that there was a lot of building and scrounging of parts whereas today most folks have store-bought equipment.  Today, eBay, QRZ/eHam classified boards and the plastic payment system along with the extensive shipping network and web sites with toll-free numbers give everyone with funds and a shipping address opportunities to purchase just about anything they could ever want.  So hamfests are not needed to acquire equipment.

Statistically the US has over 700,000 licensed amateurs yet hamfest attendance is falling.

In your time buying and selling stuff was sufficient attraction to get 5.000 souls to attend.  In our time we need more than that to attract folks and we're still trying to find out what to offer to attract a larger share of the 700,000 licensed amateurs that are supposed to be out there somewhere. We based our hamfest on the Hosstraders model because it worked but we continuously keep tweaking it to try to meet todays' needs and desires of our clientele which as discussed are not the same as they were in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

I know that we will never reach anywhere close to 5,000.  We consider an event to be really successful if it exceeds 2,000 whereas 25 years ago Hosstraders topped 5,000 in the exact same geographic region with fewer licensed amateurs.  

This is the reality of running hamfests in 2013.

73,

MisterMike, W1RC

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"It is a good thing we don't get the government we pay for." Will Rogers.
WA3VJB
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« Reply #28 on: June 23, 2013, 10:52:21 AM »

... the three founders, Joe K1RQG (SK), Bob W1GWU and I originally intended the event as a social gathering...

Norman the allure of a social gathering is something that will never go out of style, and it might be the secret as to how to sustain such events in the future.

About 20 years ago a few of us in the region came up with a "Rolling Rock" event, which was primarily an opportunity to get together with the people we enjoy on the radio.  The first one was at my house, and spontaneously became a Rolling Rock event when Gary/INR came up with a 10pm toast.

The festivities were carried "Live on 75," bringing in many more participants on the air, and a tradition was born.  

We had about ten events in the series over the next 10 years or so, sometimes at someone's house, sometimes during an AM Expedition, sometimes in conjunction with a hamfest and AM Festival Station on site.

In common at all these events was the good time seeing one another: the same genesis that you mentioned at the start of what became Hosstraders.

I was at the last Hosstraders at Deerfield in '92, and hope the descendants, wherever they may be held and under whatever circumstances, are as enjoyable as the ones I've had the good fortune to be associated with.

Nice to see you on the page here, and thanks on behalf of those of us who never got to express their appreciation to your associates for their efforts over the years.
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--Paul/VJB
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