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Author Topic: Sea-Pac Organizers please take note!  (Read 10766 times)

Posts: 109

« on: June 02, 2013, 03:11:07 PM »

Excellent fest once again this year up in Seaside Oregon.  Though the requirement to fill out a "registration form" is new for 2013 and forced MANY fairgoers to go through the line twice. Once to be informed that they needed to fill out the form, and the second time to actually register.  A simple sign in the lobby would have sufficed to let people know. There was nothing to indicate a change and normal procedure is to get in line, pay your money, and then wait for the fest to open.   

You guys should add a foot of space in the aisles.  Barely two persons can pass each other without banging shoulders.  Add a backpack to the mix and it's mayhem.  Should I even mention the balcony area? Less than a foot of access on each side of a 12x12 support structure with tables on each side.  I never could figure out why those supports were placed in a walk area.  I would suggest that planners take a look at the Rickreal hamfest layout to see what is needed for width.  The facilities there are certainly smaller but the allowed space will easily allow 6 feet or more of walk way. 

I do have to ask why Seaside is the hosting city.   Over 80 miles from Portland on Highway 26 through a very mountainous, winding road that is the traffic cops dream.   I have never seen so many OSP troopers in such a short span.  Must be the typical driving habits of going 75 miles per hour, tailgate anybody doing less than 65, all the while attempting to stay between the lines while going through a 45mph curve on a steep downhill grade. 

There are many facilities in the PDX area which would love to have the 3 day event.  Portland is on several major highways and isn't off the beaten path like Seaside is. 


Posts: 194

« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2013, 03:29:18 PM »

SeaPac doesn't have to be in Oregon at all.  It's not a local hamfest, it's the Division Convention for the entire Northwest.  It would make just as much sense to have it in any of five states- Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho or Montana.

What I've heard when I have gone is that most of the attendees don't come from the Portland area at all.  Since Seaside is a vacation destination, a ham can plan his/her family vacation to go through there and visit the convention, while the non-ham family members go do something else entertaining.  That was the case both times i went.

I have a feeling it's a lot like quilting conventions, which I have helped formulate.  Big cities like Portland may have grander convention centers but they will be VERY expensive, and I'll bet there's no free parking in Portland, either.  One of the SEAPAC organizer guys told me once that SEAPAC is the largest convention held annually in Seaside.  If that's true, then they probably get a huge discount on the convention hall, since they're bringing in so much tax revenue.  Also, since Seaside is a vacation town and not a major business hub, the restaurants tend to be affordable two-stars, like the Pig & Blanket or whatever it's called, rather than the Stanford's and other expensive places I remember seeing near the Portland convention center when I visited.  In other words, the whole Seaside experience is more ham-friendly.

I do not remember narrow aisles, except in the flea market area.  As a division convention, the flea market is not very important.  Division conventions are about meeting with your ARRL officials, attending the numerous technical and operating forums, and meeting the people you QSO with on the air who aren't quite local to you.  The Flea Market aspect of a convention tends to not be all that prominent, flea markets being more important for the small local hamfest.

Does Portland even have a local hamfest?  You mentioned Rickreall, I think I've been to one of those.  Some county fairground, right, but not all that close to Portland?

I used to live in Seattle, but moved a couple years ago, so I don't get to the Oregon events so often.

- k

Posts: 17476

« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2013, 11:44:34 AM »

I wondered why the line was so long when I arrived just after opening!
Fortunately I was handed my speaker's badge without going through it.

Seaside has lots of housing options:  being on the beach, but just off the peak
season, there are lots of short-term rental homes available.  One club used to
rent a large house on the beach for the weekend:  it would sleep 8 or 10 people
much more cheaply than a hotel, and we could put up an antenna and operate
an HF station from there.  Given the distances that people have to travel for
this particular ARRL Division Convention (almost 1000 miles to the far end of
Montana, and that barely reaches the closest tip of Alaska) you have to
expect a lot of people to stay for the weekend, and having activities for
the rest of the family is a big plus, as is a chance of warm weather.  A lot
of Canadians come down to it as well.

You're right - it doesn't have to be in Oregon, but my understanding is that
nobody has put together a competing proposal to host the convention that
provides the same advantages.

The flea market layout is complicated by the placement of some pillars in the
upstairs of the building that houses the 2-day swap tables.  The ones downstairs
are for Saturday only as they are also used for the banquet that evening.  Yes,
it is a bit crowded (I find a bag slung over one shoulder is easier to navigate
among the stalls than a backpack) and they are very close to capacity, but
I expect that any other facility that is large enough to be comfortable will be
more expensive per person.

Meanwhile there are actually TWO events at the Polk County Fairgrounds in
Rickreal each year:  the Salem Hamfair in February and Swaptoberfest in October.
It's convenient to Salem and Portland, while far enough out of town to keep
prices reasonably low.  But there aren't many options for food or lodging
locally, so these are primarily local hamfests.

Posts: 6

« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2013, 03:56:51 PM »

We travelled from Manitoba to attend. The RV camping on the Oregon seaside is second to none. The last place I would like to see it held is in a large metropolitan city. We enjoyed SeaPac immensely. Thanks to everyone who helped organize the event..

Posts: 159

« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2013, 06:28:19 PM »

Was that your big Ford pickup in parking lot? That was one nice truck!

After attending Seapac off and on over the past 12 years or so, I can say it is crowded at the tables.

The upstairs tables should be a no brainer to fix. Half the sellers are against the railing and have no room, the others across the aisle have the tables set up like horseshoes - too much space in the middle for a couple guys. Seems like I see the same people at the same places over the years, so maybe the railing guys are waiting for the others to go SK; they looked to be in good shape though, healthy, but lackluster - a price reduction might liven things up.

Downstairs is another issue. It really didn't become clear to me until I went to a banquet a few years ago. After the selling tables are cleared they have to set up for the banquet in that area. Tables are set in rows and the speaker is up on stage. The commercial vendor area stayed as is, I guess for Sunday sales. It's probably really tough to fit everything in there. I think if they turned the long rows 90 degrees they might gain more rows that are shorter. I didn't even want to attempt some of the tables, people stopping to look on either side took up the aisle. The commercial vendors at Seaside get lots of premium space.

Rickreall seems to work, because the halls are long and the seller tables are front and center - the commercial sellers get a smaller dark shed in the back, across a small parking lot.

I like SeaPac for the Friday and Saturday workshop/seminars. An hour per isn't quite long enough for most, twice as long as it needs to be for others. There was a pretty good one by a guy named Fred that started a QRZ something site. I'll need to check that out sometime.

Having it at Seaside is the only way I can get my wife to go to the Geekfest with me. She won't come in, of course. I got her within 10 feet of the front door this year though - an hour before it opened on Friday. It's the small victories that mean the most.

Posts: 1

« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2013, 11:21:40 PM »

The comments about Sea-Pac on this forum are so noted.  Let me address a few of them.

This year, we added the registration slips to help our internal tracking of those who attended.  We wanted to be sure to include them in future mailings about Sea-Pac. This was a simpler way of obtaining the data than downloading the FCC database which has a lot of wrong addresses and no email or phone numbers.  We had hoped that by filling out the slips, you would indicate how many registrations, dinners, pins, etc. you wanted and the have total cost ready before reaching the registration desk to minimize time at the registers.  Our intent was to have a person in the lobby handing out the registration slips, but with a last minute shortage of help – it didn't happen.  The comment about a simple sign is well taken – we've got signs for nearly everything else.

I was pleased to see most of the eHam forum comments were positive.  We can't do much about the building support pillars upstairs.  They are where they are.  We did try to move the vendors back as much as possible to give more aisle room, but we could only go so far.  We did try.  We will continue to see what we can do about increasing the aisle space upstairs.

The downstairs flea market table layout has been tried both ways.  The current layout lets you wander down the entire row.  Switching 90 degrees and you'd dead-end at the stage and have to retrace back to the beginning of each row.  The sellers like the present arrangement much better. 

Sea-Pac is quickly outgrowing the facility and the city of Seaside is well aware of the situation.  We hope they can get funding to add on to the facility in a couple years.  In the past, we have also considered a Portland and other locations as a venue for Sea-Pac, but your comments are correct – it is Very expensive; more than 5X last time I checked and parking can vary from $5 to $20 and that's per day.  At Seaside it's FREE.

Did you notice all the stores and shops on the main street have "Welcome Sea-Pac Ham Operator” signs?  Most donate to our prize list as well.  We love Seaside and Seaside loves Sea-Pac.  It's a great place to take the family for a weekend and meet other hams as well.

Our thanks to everyone who attended this year and to those who support us in other ways during the planning year and at the convention. We hope you can attend our 32nd convention in Seaside next year.

Sea-Pac 2014 will be held June 6, 7, and 8.

Wayne Schuler, AI9Q
Sea-Pac Chairman

Posts: 159

« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2013, 06:52:52 AM »

Thanks Wayne,

I have to agree that Seaside really opens their doors for Hams that weekend. An increase in building size from a venue move would mean an overall decrease; the actual convention center is just a small part of it.

Most conventions I've been to are fairly similar. Big building with a few motels around, paid parking, not many close food choices, and I end up walking 10 miles a day.

Sea-Pac always amazes me by the amount of off-site things that the community makes happen; Friday workshops at Shilo Inn, the spaghetti feed, the various meeting places, the choice of lodging, parking all over - and I don't feel I've spent most of the day just walking from one place to another. We could probably set up a field day on the beach and not raise an eyebrow, (fortunately, Hams don't sun themselves in speedo's, so the beach at Seaside usually isn't too crowded during Sea-Pac).

I came in registered Friday, so didn't have worry about the Saturday morning issues. I was there Saturday morning and it was tight as usual - seems like the last 45 minutes before opening the room gets jam packed with people in lines for registration and lines for people wanting to rush the tables, and things tend to overlap. There's no way to Q. I imagine people just walking in to register at this time must feel overwhelmed.

I usually just go outside. The weather was pretty nice this year.  I wonder if setting up the line for the early "table rushers" outside where they could enter through the double doors by the commercial tables would ease the registration problem? Just keep the blockade at the stairs in place, the front room being just for registration until about 10 minutes after the event starts.

Overall, you guys put on a great event and make it look easy - I know it's not.


Posts: 27

« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2013, 09:39:35 PM »

  I must somewhat belatedly chime in with my take, also.  SeaPac convention at any other location would not be a draw for me.  There simply is no other reasonable location with everything that SeaSide has to offer .   The Convention is probably one of the best organized and operated conventions in the United States.  My Kudos to the people who put this together.  We love every aspect of the convention, the vendor displays,  the flea market, and most certainly the seminars offered which must have exceeded all records in numbers this year as well as breadth of subjects offered.  Of course the fantastic quality and quantity of prizes offered doesn't hurt, either.

   My wife and I, and our dogs too,  come to SeaSide for more than the convention.  We come for the camping,  the stores,  the dining,  the beaches,  the promenade,  and the over all nice coastal experience.  I simply would not go to Portland for the Convention, period.

   My apologies to anyone I accidentally bashed with my backpack in the flea market aisles.  ☺

Ed   K7AAT

Posts: 2

« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2013, 12:36:23 PM »

I have to say that Seaside Oregon is one of my most favorite spots I have visited on the ham radio concention circuit.  Ive been there twice:  The first time was in 1994 when we presented the Young Ham of the Year Award to KD4CKP and the second time in the early 2000's when I was their banquet speaker.  While everyone talks about the convention, few realize that the most alluring aspect of Sea-Pac is its location.  To this scribe, nothing is more beautoful than watching the sun set across the Pacific as viewed from the Oregon coastline.  My belief is that any group of hams anywhere in the world can get together and sponsor a hamfest, but few places can give you the absolute wonderment of the Pacific Northwest coastline.  And to me, thats what I like most about Sea-Pac and why one day I hope to get there again.
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