Amateur radio enthusiasts will gather for the annual festival in Shelby
Hamfest will return to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds over Labor Day weekend, bringing amateur radio enthusiasts from around the world to Shelby.
Here are five things to know about the local amateur radio club and the upcoming event:
1. The 66th Shelby Hamfest will take place September 2-4, hosted by the Shelby Amateur Radio Club. Campers start arriving a week early, and the event includes ham radio vendors and manufacturers showcasing their latest products. It is also a place where radio amateurs meet face to face. There is a flea market. Saturday September 3, amateur radio license test and treasure hunt for children under 18.
2. The first Shelby Hamfest was held at Brackett’s Cedar Park in 1957 with around 300 attendees, and over the years it outgrew the park, moving to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in 1979. It then moved again then returned to Shelby in 2013.
By the mid-1990s, attendance had grown to over 10,000. While attendance has plummeted in recent years, the Shelby Hamfest is still considered one of the largest on the East Coast and is the largest in the ARRL Roanoke Division (North and South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia). It attracted radio amateurs from as far away as New Zealand, Turkey, India, Britain and Sweden.
3. A portion of Hamfest proceeds is earmarked for the maintenance and upkeep of the club’s six repeaters, which are available to Cleveland County Emergency Management and other agencies such as the Red Cross American disaster in the county.
A portion of the profits are donated to local charities. In recent years, the Shelby Amateur Radio Club has contributed to the Salvation Army, Cleveland Rutherford Kidney Association, Crossroads Rescue Mission, Life Enrichment Center, Council on Aging, ARRL Spectrum Defense Fund and to other organizations in and around Cleveland County.
4. Hamfest will be held at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds at 1751 E. Marion St., Shelby. Admission is $10 at the door and is good for all three days. Children 12 and under can participate for free. Several door prizes will be awarded.
Due to construction across the street at Cleveland Community College, the parking lot is located behind the fairgrounds.
5. The Shelby Amateur Radio Club holds its monthly meetings at the Red Cross Building in Shelby at 7:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month (except December).