In my efforts to show you that not all Hamfests take place in the USA I present to you my review of the Friedrichshafen 2016 Hamfest.
Firstly, please see my review of the 2015 event at http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,103968.0.html
This is not an attempt to be lazy on my part but after going to the event for fourteen years I find that there have been only minor changes in the running of the event. It's the old maxim, if it isn't broken then don't fix it!
So, what has changed? Well, the price of camping is now 65 Euro for Thursday-Sunday but the admission cost to the event is still 20 Euro for a three day pass. Considering the size of the event this represents good value.
After arriving on the Thursday afternoon there was the usual brief search for a power connection but the spiderweb of 230V cables across the camping site eventually yealded a result. This year was a typical one for Friedrichshafen weather with brilliant sunshine and souring temperatures from Thursday until Saturday afternoon and then a massive storm from 4pm Saturday until Sunday morning. As all events take place indoors this wasn't too much of a problem but the drainage on the camping site was tested to its limits. Most of us woke on Sunday to a tent that was damp on the outside and dry on the inside but some were not so lucky.
Admission to the event was, as usual, quick, and by 09:10 the queues to get in had vanished to be replaced by a slow steady stream of visitors. The admission gates where you get your ticket scanned have now moved to just inside the hall which gives more initial waiting space but doesn't seem to affect the speed of the ladies scanning people in. At this point I'm going to let you all in to a well kept secret, their are TWO entrances to the event. The first is the main entrance by the lake that we all know about which leads directly into Hall A1 but the second is at the eastern end of the complex opposite the camp site. Walk through the tunnel under the road and follow the fence until you see the entrance. There you will find a cool air conditioned hall with seats and once through the barrier you eventually end up at Hall A4 which is the flea market.
There were some changes to the layout in Hall A1 especially in the area devoted to the national radio societies. The ARRL and the RSGB were still in their usual positions but others such as MRASZ (the Hungarians) were relocated. For some reason the Algerian national society were shoved off into a corner and difficult to see. Politics? Who knows?
This time I sampled some of the outside catering including the massive tent in the center of the courtyard. This was a wonderful surprise, not just because of the quantities but also the quality of the product. Here's a hint, try the chicken, it's a roast chicken to die for and only sheer willpower prevented me going back the next day. There's also a restaurant inside the tent with waitress service but I prefer the outside product, more atmosphere.
In another Eham post I try to compare the sizes of Dayton and Friedrichshafen. Dayton wins when it comes to the size of the flea market, no contest, but the German version is a well organized inside event that is not affected by the climate and this is a big plus. The trade side of things? After carefully looking at the diagrams I reckon it's a tie. This year the flea market was slightly smaller but there was a lot less junk and more stuff worth a second glance. Ninety percent of my shopping list was filled and only a couple of obscure items remain which is a good result.
This was the first time that I was able to stay as late as possible on the Sunday, the last day. Officially the event closes at 4pm but by Sunday morning there were some empty tables in the flea market and by 2pm a lot of the booths in A1 had started to pack up. This is a shame, people pay good money to enter the event and if it says 0900-1600 Sunday then that's when the stall holders should operate. Even the RSGB and the ARRL are guilty of this and it's not right.
So, four days away from home, I've spent way too much money, I've eaten food so tasty that it should be illegal and my feet are sore. Will I be there next year? HELL YEAH!!