What is The New England Amateur Radio Festival (NEAR-Fest)?
The NEAR-Fest is an international event run by and for all radio hobbyists and enthusiasts, including “hams”, short-wave listeners, scanner buffs, vintage/antique radio fans, etc. NEAR-Fest is held twice annually, spring and fall, rain or shine, at the Deerfield Fairgrounds, Deerfield NH beginning on Friday at 0900 and ending Saturday at 1500 hours.
Admission is $10. Persons under 18 and over 80 are admitted free of charge upon presentation of government-issued ID. Inside parking is available for $10 and includes a “reasonable amount of flea market selling space” for PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS selling their own personal property. Commercial vendors must register and pay applicable fees. If you are wondering if you are a “commercial vendor” you probably are. One complimentary inside commercial space is available for clubs, estates and other “non-profit organizations” on an “as available” basis.
Overnight camping, trailer and RV hookups are available. Three food vendors provide meals and snacks at reasonable prices. The Deerfield Community Church ladies serve up a breakfast that has to be consumed to be believed. Angelino’s offers hamburgers, steak, sausage submarines and other great “fair food” specialities and Patty’s Polish Kitchen menu features wonderful “Mitteleuropa” cuisine. No one goes hungry at NEAR-Fest. We are extremely proud of the high quality of food that these vendors offer our guests while they are at the ‘Fester.
NEAR-Fest typically attracts attendees from the six New England states, NY, NJ, PA, MD and other states as well as from Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Canada. Some attendees travel great distances; one gentleman from Los Angeles has attended fifteen events and in 2010 one radio amateur traveled from Greece to join us for the fun.
The program of activities and events at NEAR-Fest is extensive; a huge outdoor electronic flea market, three buildings full of commercial vendors, forums, technical seminars and symposia, demonstrations, exhibits, displays, licensing examinations, special events radio stations, a “jam session”, good food, fellowship, fun and general mishigoss. NEAR-Fest is the largest event of its kind in the Northeast and has once been described as the “Woodstock of Amateur Radio”.
All of NEAR-Fest’s staff members are volunteers. Since NEAR-Fest is a 501(c)(3) Public Charity, any funds remaining after expenses are used for benevolent projects. NEAR-Fest directs some of its resources to attracting newcomers to our hobby with a special emphasis toward young people. To that end NEAR-Fest has gifted an amateur radio station capable of communicating through satellites orbiting the Earth as a gift to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord NH and brokered a partnership with the Contoocook Valley Radio Club (CVRC) to operate and maintain the station on a regular schedule.
In addition we have also funded several university and technical school scholarships and supported various charitable organizations such as the Shriners Hospitals and Boston Burns Unit. We also help to preserve our radio frequency spectrum allocations and have initiated a program providing for fund-matching grants to expand and enhance the amateur radio digital repeaters and networks throughout New England.
We look forward to seeing you at NEAR-Fest.
Michael Crestohl, W1RC/VE2XL
(aka “Mister Mike”),
and the entire NEAR-Fest team.