Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Gaithersburg, MD Hamfest: What ever happened to it?  (Read 31208 times)
W2MV
Member

Posts: 207




Ignore
« on: May 11, 2012, 11:10:06 AM »

It seems to have disappeared, but I remember it being the best except for Dayton.
Logged
W3DBB
Member

Posts: 72




Ignore
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2012, 06:18:25 AM »

The FARFEST was a major show on the east coast.

IIRC the sponsoring organisation, the Foundation for Amateur Radio (or the FAR) was priced out of the Montgomery County (MD) Fairgrounds in the late '90's, so the event was moved to Bowie (MD) Baysox Stadium for a couple of years. For reasons unknown, but possibly relating to $$$, the event moved again to the Howard County Fairground near West Friendship, MD.

There are those who know better to fill in the blanks (and my incomplete memory). In the years the event was held at Howard County, the last year or two of that stand the FARFEST was combined with the hamfest held by the Columbia, MD group in October.

I'd heard some rumblings there was some dissension over the combined hamfest. The FAR managed to move the show back to the Montgomery County Fairground. By this time the FARFEST, what with all the venue changes and other changes in the ham radio hobby, was a smaller event.

I heard some complaining about the final year of the show. The Fairground was hosting the hamfest and a gay rodeo simultaneously in separate parts of the facility. Also there was, I had heard, a separate charge for parking over and above the price of hamfest admission. I think this was their final year, which was a few years back.

The Foundation for Amateur Radio continues. It is an umbrella organisation for amateur radio clubs in the Baltimore-Washington-central Maryland area. The FAR awards scholarships to young people from fundraising proceeds- most commendable.

In the heyday of FM repeaters, the Foundation published Autocall magazine but that was suspended a few years back as well.

Thanks for the post. It prompted some memories (accuracy not guaranteed).
Logged
K2LGO
Member

Posts: 113




Ignore
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2012, 07:59:24 AM »

W3DBB...Thanks for the info on Gaithersburg...One of the first BIG hamfest I attended, and even though I was licensed over 15 years when I attended, when I saw it I was flabbergasted at the size of it...The first thing I saw was a Johnson KW matchbox, which I promptly bought for $75.00...
Only problem it was a big drive from eastern Long Island....73/BOB
Logged
W3DBB
Member

Posts: 72




Ignore
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2012, 10:25:10 AM »

Only problem it was a big drive from eastern Long Island....73/BOB
Ditto for central Pennsylvania. Could never justify the 3.5+ hour drive to Gaithersburg. Or Bowie for that matter. But I always kept the FARFEST on the calendar, as it were.

I'm a frequent attendee of the Maryland FM Association's Memorial Day weekend show at Howard County Fairground. That's 3 to 3.5 hours depending on which route I take.

I attended the Columbia (MD) Amateur Radio Association's show at Howard County Fairground in October 2009, only time I've ever been to the CARA-FEST. A nice event.

For some reason I never made it to the FARFEST those few years it was at Howard County. I snooze, I lose.

73
Doug
W3DBB
Logged
K3GM
Member

Posts: 1767




Ignore
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2012, 11:26:52 AM »

.....the event was moved to Bowie (MD) Baysox Stadium for a couple of years......
......

That was a fantastic venue, and for some reason the sellers always had great stuff.  After attending other hamfests held in dairy barns, drive-in theater parking lots, dingey sheds, and open fields, the nearly brand new stadium was really nice.  We always drove a carload down from Philadelphia and South Jersey.
Logged
N3WD
Member

Posts: 18




Ignore
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2012, 02:08:01 PM »

Gaithersburg was a nice hamfest, unfortunately for the Foundation For Amateur Radio (FAR) the owners of facility let the place go. I was a trustee, Auto-Call subscription manager, and later the secretary for FAR and assisted with many FAR-Fests. The reason for all the changes was different but I will give you the Reader’s Digest version.

In the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s Gaithersburg grew like ever other hamfest in the country. By the late 90’s ownership at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds (not owned by the county) changed hands. They broke the fairgrounds up into zones. Each little area of grass defined by where the roads and paths were, each barn, each building etc. Each of those areas had an associated price and even if you used the area for only parking you were charged for that area even if it was only one rouge car. The price to rent the fairgrounds cost more than what Timonium paid for the entire fairgrounds. Believe me as treasurer of BARC who runs Timonium it was a pretty penny.

That was when the decision was made by the Foundation to move the hamfest to the Bowie Baysox baseball stadium. Unfortunately, the date had to change from the weekend after labor day to the end of September to make sure that the AA Bowie Baysox season including any playoff games would be over.

The second problem with the stadium while it was really nice was there was NO protected area for the truly commercial vendors to go. Their wears would be subject to the elements in some manner no matter where on the concourse you placed them.  After a couple of good years the lack of commercial vendors and variable date it made looking for another place mandatory.

By this time the Montgomery County Fairgrounds had changed ownership again. The new ownership was eager to get shows back into the fairgrounds and was talking about sprucing the old place up. The first year back went very well.

The second year we shared the fairgrounds with the rodeo. Some hams had a real problem with the fact that a gay rodeo was using the show ring and other areas surrounding the show ring of the fairgrounds.  The hamfest had not used that area for over a decade. The two shows got along very well with both organizations working together for the betterment of BOTH shows.

The end and Montgomery County Fairgrounds came the next year, the hamfest was actually growing again despite many other hamfests declining. That was when the final blow was laid to both the hamfest AND the rodeo. Two weeks before the show the management of the fairgrounds announced to the Hamfest committee as well as the rodeo committee that THEY (the fairgrounds) was going to imposed a $25 parking fee for anyone including attendees to park on the grounds. The reasoning was that the Washington Redskins charged $25 for people to park in their lots for football games so they would too.

After many meetings and arguments’ and threats of law suites the rodeo and hamfest got the price down to $5. Still not what the rodeo or hamfest committees wanted. The problem was the fairgrounds insisted that they would be at the main gates collecting their $5 BEFORE the attendee’s even got to the venue they were there for. Needless to say that was the final dagger.

The Foundation for Amateur Radio (FAR) the organization that put on the Gaithersburg hamfest looked high and low to find a suitable place to hold the hamfest. Most places that were suitable were just too expensive and those that were reasonable just would not work for FARFest.

Another amateur radio club who were having issues getting enough help to continue to put on their hamfest suggested that the two organizations join forces and split the costs and proceeds of a hamfest. Since the other club had the date and place the Foundation joined forces and the event was held at the Howard County Fairgrounds were the other club had held their hamfest and on their dates. The first year of the joint venture went OK. Some bumps in the road but OK. The second and final year the arguments over who did more work and who did not pay a fair share started.

Thus the final chapter of FARFest , known as the Gaithersburg hamfest was written.

Bill, N3WD
Logged
K3GM
Member

Posts: 1767




Ignore
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2012, 07:22:49 PM »

Interesting history, Bill.  TNX
Logged
K3LP
Member

Posts: 8




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2012, 10:43:10 PM »

DXCC-East Convention, Frederick, Maryland - Aug. 25, 2012
www.dxcceast.com

Logged
WA2JSG
Member

Posts: 5




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2013, 06:39:46 PM »

I remember that Gaithersburg Hamfest. It was a really nice event, and went several years. I sometimes would park a camper right there on the hamfest site, but only problem with that, was the train that came thru every hour waking us up. lol.
I miss that hamfest. :-(
Curt WA2JSG NJ
Logged
N4FBW
Member

Posts: 34




Ignore
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2013, 09:08:04 PM »

I went to the Gaithersburg Hamfest back in the late 70's. It was a massive Hamfest and I remember walking through what seemed like acres of things for sale. Kudos to FAR for putting on such a great 'fest. Times change but the memories remain!
Logged
WA2JSG
Member

Posts: 5




Ignore
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2013, 07:37:42 AM »

One p.s., I remember eating at the Golden Bull Restaurant next to the fairgrounds. That was a Saturday night highlight for us.


I remember that Gaithersburg Hamfest. It was a really nice event, and went several years. I sometimes would park a camper right there on the hamfest site, but only problem with that, was the train that came thru every hour waking us up. lol.
I miss that hamfest. :-(
Curt WA2JSG NJ

Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!