Hamfest

The Hamfest elves have been combing through the archives to try and fill out the history of the Hamfest. This what they have found so far …

The Ottawa Amateur Radio Club has held Hamfests off and on over the years, but the modern era of OARC Hamfests began in 1997. It has been held every year since then, except for a 2-year break due to Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021.

In 1997 and 1998 the Hamfest was held at the Agriculture Fair Grounds next door to the W. Erskine Johnston Arena (the current location). Jim Cummings VE3XJ (SK) was the manager for 1997 and 1998.

For one year, in 1999, it was held in the horse barn and the vendors set up in the various stalls. The horses were moved out just a few days earlier and their presence was still felt. Richard Hagemeyer VE3UNW was the manager in 1999.

By 2000 it was obvious we needed a new venue, so we moved to the W. Erskine Johnston Arena at the Carp Fairgounds on Carp Road in Ottawa’s west end. It was at this venue that the OARC Hamfest became affectionately known as the “Carp Hamfest”. Greg Danylchenko VE3YTZ became manager in 2000 and remained manager until 2006. In 2007 Ed Sich VE3WGO took over the Hamfest management.

The Hamfest is located right next door to the famous Carp Farmers’ Market, and just minutes away from the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum.

There have been a few changes along the way. Tailgaters were never been a big feature of The OARC Hamfest, but in “the old days”, weather permitting, close to a dozen cars and trucks parked alongside the arena selling their treasures. In 2004, Eric Meth (SK) brought a bus load of stuff to sell. That was the heyday of the tailgater era. Tailgaters never amounted to more than a couple of guys after that, and they disappeared altogether a year or two later when the Hamfest opening time changed from 10 am to 9 am.

In 2004, Eric Meth (SK) brought a bus load of stuff to sell

Nowadays the activity is almost exclusively inside the arena, since nobody wants to “miss out” on any of the interesting activities and bargain hunting opportunities. On-the-air demonstrations are often provided, such as an Oscar satellite station, or [… more examples to come here….].

The Hamfest participation level has steadily grown over the years, from a barely half-full arena in the early days to more recent events almost bursting at the gate with a full roster of fleamarket vendors, OARC and other regional radio club displays, and presentations from volunteer organizations such as ARES, QCWA, and the Diefenbunker. Interested particpants have come from all over eastern Ontario, western Quebec, and upstate New York. A number of commercial vendors also attend with displays and sales tables. Door prize draws generate high interest, with numerous valuable prizes donated by the commercial vendors.

Starting around 2010, the Carp Hamfest added Government of Canada Amateur Radio Licence testing on-site by an accredited examiner, Mike VE3FFK, so that attendees could take the written test (and the Morse Code test if they were so inclined), receive their graded test result, then perhaps shop in the fleamarket for a new radio in celebration of their achievement!

Everyone is welcome at the OARC (Carp) Hamfest!

Past Hamfests

We will be adding links to photo galleries and write ups of past Hamfests as time permits …