For the Hams among us, I thought I would post some observations made at a recent hamfest I attended. For the non-Hams, a hamfest is an organized yard sale of sorts where gear is bought and sold. First, I noticed that this particular hamfest had a lot of empty spaces for vendors. This was upsetting as we had driven 3.5 hours to get there. Sadly, I have noticed this decline in other hamfests as well. Next, the old guy with the 5 Collins boat anchor radios was there. He is at every hamfest I attend, with those same old 1940's era radios. Why? Then I started paying attention to the crowd, as there wasn't much to look at vendor wise. The crowd was split between the guys who wore multiple HTs with speaker mics clipped all over, hat and shirts proudly proclaiming their call signs and skittering about like a national crisis was about to break and they needed to be ready to save the republic, the old guys (guess that's me) that were there to see if there was anything they needed for the shack, and the social climbers, the ones who were only there to see and be seen, buy nothing and brag a lot about accomplishments. I told the XYL on the way home (She is a Ham too) that this division in Ham radio is becoming more and more prevalent. It seems that the multiple HT "save the world" guys are becoming the norm, getting a Technician ticket and joining ARES to keep doom and disaster at bay, but never advancing beyond it. When they tire of the world not needing them, the radios get put aside and forgotten. Then comes the braggers. These guys have pursued at least a general ticket and read every thing they can to better be able to discuss propagation, antenna modeling and amplifiers. They can be heard on the HF bands, telling all who will listen why their particular setup is hands down the best out there. Then the old guys. This group has the most Extra and Advanced class hams. Been there, done that, knows what will work, and does radio for the enjoyment. None spend a lot of money at a hamfest because the shack is overflowing already. They go to meet old friends and make new ones. Now for the vendor observations: Lots of ARES gear, especially packet set-ups. It's dying out folks. Municipalities are weary and leery of hams who may or may not show up should there be an emergency. There were also lots of DMR radios for sale, so I see this as a growing thing even though it is internet based. Then, the China radios, of which at least every other table had a few. Don't get me wrong, they are O.K. radios (I own a few), especially to start out in the hobby. Most of the "save the world" crowd wears at least two of them at all times. Nothing beats the spectral purity of a Kenwood or Yaesu or Motorola though. I'll hit on antennas too. There were bunches of wire antennas there, neatly packaged and proclaiming to be the best. G5RV's were going for as much as $125. A lot of money for $15 worth of parts! Final thoughts: Every Ham should attend a hamfest once in a while. If we don't they will surely die. I suspect the internet has a lot to do with falling attendance numbers. It's easy to just order online and not wait. A hamfest is better in my opinion though, because you can hold the item, try it out, and talk to others about it before buying. There are usually forums about radio, and almost always a VE session to upgrade your license. In addition, there are usually a few vendors selling books on various things radio. These are a great resource even in this Google age. And then the people. Meeting someone you have talked to for years is great! So get out to a hamfest and let's keep it alive!