SBARC Hamfest 2022

an alternative to Dayton


I've never been to Dayton or incarnations thereof. Come to think of it, the only time I was in Ohio, I never stepped foot on terra firma, as I was on a train from AFEES Springfield, MA to NAVSTA Great Lakes. Dayton, or Hamvention as it's now called, always seemed a bit overwhelming to me. I've been to a couple/three Deerfield Hamfests (now called NEARfest) in New Hampshire, and despite the size and crowds, those 'fests were comfortable. Maybe it's the locations that dictate my preferences. NH is familiar. Ohio isn't.

Meanwhile, back in Connecticut...

...if memory serves, last year's Southern Berkshire Amateur Radio Club hamfest was canceled due to rampant covIDIOCY fear. So the 'fest was long overdue. And with the SBARC event generally being the only hamfest I attend, I was more than champing at the bit.

Plans were to pack up two or three of my HW-8s, their power supplies, chair, and card table to "tailgate." Usually tailgaters arrive at 6 A.M., which posed a problem for me. I've worked many years on either second or third shift, so 6 A.M. get up and go is usually nowhere to be found. heh. I don't wake up and run, either, as I'd much rather ease into the day for about an hour with fresh coffee before I approach anything remotely resembling "run."

A rough Friday night trying to get to sleep thwarted my Saturday tailgating plans, as I didn't get up until nearly 9 A.M. Between an one hour romancing a pot of coffee and second guessing whether to even go at that point, when the decision was made it was around 10:30 A.M.! As a result, I arrived at the Goshen Fairgrounds just after 11 A.M.

This "new to me" arch welcomed me


My first purchase turned out being rather non-radio, but electronic nevertheless. This Fender Squire 15 guitar amplfier was looking rather lonesome and in need of a good home. A note taped to the top said:

Checked W/ crystal Mike
"Works" somewhat, needs
controls cleaned OR
something more...


Already having a late 70s vintage Fender Champ amplifier that still needs some work, I need another project like I need another hole in my head. However, $20 seemed like a decent price, especially when one probably can't buy just the Squire's 8" speaker for that price, let alone a cabinet with grill cloth to put it in! Worse case scenario was the amp or power supply were fried, which the attached note ruled out. I hastily whipped out my wallet, extracted a fresh Jackson, and handed it to the seller. Then came a surprise.

He thanked me, took the Jackson and put it in his wallet, then handed me a $10 bill(!), saying "You seem like an honest guy." I can only assume he was referring to how I didn't try to beat him down on the price.

Before taking the $10, I paused, then asked, "Are you sure?" He replied in the affirmative, wished me well with the amplifier, adding he thought it was probably something simple. I thanked him, took and stashed the $10, and extended my hand, which was returned with a fist. heh. I relented and we fist bumped. Guess there's still some pandemic fear around.

What a nice guy, though! And from my initial poking about in the amp when I got back home, he was right: it's something in the input/preamp stage, which translates to "simple." Yay!

With my "new" Fender Squire 15 in hand, I crossed the midway to check out another table. Lo and behold, there were a stack of ham books that looked promising. "$20 for the lot or $5 each" said the seller. There were only a couple to my liking, so handed my recently acquired 1/2 price discount on the amplifier to this seller. Man! That $10 bill resided in my wallet for less than five minutes! heh.

As I was leaving his table, I overheard him mention to another guy something-or-other "Inlet" - which caught my attention. "Inlet? As in New York? Adirondacks?", I asked.

Turns out he has spent some time at a friend's family camp on Fourth Lake up in the Inlet/Eagle Bay area - maybe 5 miles from my September camping haunts at Eighth Lake Campground! We briefly "chatted ADK" and I mentioned knowing Matt Miller, KD2CFH and told him about Matt's tower and quad shoehorned between two buildings in the center of Inlet - one of which being Matt's business, Screamen Eagle Pizza. I apologized for interrupting and seemingly hijacking the conversation, and went into the barn to check the indoor table offerings.

Oh yeah. The books:


The A.R.R.L. Antenna Book turned out being a bit more of a classic than I initially thought. Upon returning home and opening to the first page, I was surprised to see:

West Hartford, Connecticut

West Hartford! That was when Hq was at 38 LaSalle Road - after Hq's move from Park Street in Hartford and before the move to its present location at 225 Main Street in Newington! Page three revealed a 1960 Copyright date and it being the 9th Edition of the Antenna Book. There was still another surprise on the last page - the familiar (to us old timers, at least) "You'll Find it in a LEAGUE PUBLICATION" advertisement. Of particular note is the address listed as "WEST HARTFORD, 7 CONN." That means the book, or printing thereof, predates Zip Codes! Kind of neat, eh?

It even has the plans for the wood lattice tower my father and I built that went atop the carport way back when! Supported a homebrew 3-element beam for 10 meters and a pair of 7-element beams for 2 meters.

The second book was a compromise for the smaller form (similar size to the Antenna Book) Understanding Amateur Radio. Its copyright is 1977, so not quite as classic as the Antenna Book, but at least it has the blood, sweat, and tears of both Doug DeMaw, W1FB, and George Grammer, W1DF, on its pages.

At $5 each, I paid 2-1/2 times the original price for the Antenna Book and the exact, 1977 price for Understanding Amateur Radio. No complaints, though, as both are worth well more than $5 a piece!

Inside the barn, I made a beeline for the SBARC's table. Having arrived so late, there was nobody manning the gate and I felt it improper to take advantage of the situation by not paying their more than reasonable $5 entry fee. The club guys scoffed at me paying when arriving so late, but I insisted. They ultimately relented, pointed to The Gatekeeper, and then one fella quipped that my behavior was a refreshing surprise in today's world. Something tells me he and I agree on a lot of things related to society in 2022.

After giving the equally surprised gatekeeper the entrance fee, I made a run of the indoor table offerings. Nothing really caught my eye, so I headed over to where our local peddler of keys, bugs, and paddles usually sets up: right across from the refreshments table.

Owing to it being so late, Lee, K1LEE, was closing up shop at the refreshments table. I first met Lee four years ago at the Goshen Hamfest, and bought a Vibroplex bug from him. This year he was only peddling burgers, hot dogs, and beverages, so my late breakfast was a natural casing hot dog doused with mustard, relish, and ketchup, washed down with some pink lemonade.

That's a healthy breakfast, isn't it? heh.

After "breakfast" and chatting a bit with Lee, it was time to pack it in and head back home. I made one last run of the midway, then headed to the trusty Ford Explorer. On my way out, I stopped to take a phone call - after which I decided to take one, last photo.

Though I regret not getting my tailgating act together, I'm very glad I decided to still attend. Great weather. Nice, rural location. Friendly, country folks. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday morning in May!

See you next year, SBARC Goshen Hamfest!


P.S. I didn't see a single soul wearing a covIDIOT face diaper! Yay! At least Connecticut's northwest corner has finally returned to sanity and chosen freedom over fear-based servitude.