This was my first time at the Irving ARC Hamfest, held in Irving Texas at the Betcha Bingo Hall on Irving Blvd. I was told to expect a small crowd, with few or no vendors at all, and that this Hamfest wasn’t so great. (No one actually said it wasn’t any good, that is just the impression that I got from other hams around the area). However, since I had never been before, and it was only a 20 minute drive from my home QTH, I decided to go. I also wanted to take some of my friends (KG5AHE, KG5AHI, KG5AHJ) who are new hams, and let them look around for deals on equipment.
I was pleasantly surprised at the number of attendants at this hamfest. We arrived at 8am, opening time, and there were many cars filing into the parking lot along with a short line of people standing at the front door, awaiting commencement. It took several minutes to get inside the bingo hall, due to the number of people waiting in line to buy tickets, get their hands stamped, and fill-out a raffle ticket which came with each entry ticket. I didn’t mind this at all, I was glad to see so many interested people there.
Also, unlike the Gainsville Hamfest last year, this hamfest had filled all of their sale tables. I think perhaps there were 1 or 2 tables at the very front that didn’t appear to be claimed, but other than that, all tables had vendors/sellers present. Even the very back had a few tables with products for sale.
Main Trading Company also had a table at the hamfest, and they did some good sales also. I kept hearing their famous bell ringing, signifying a sale with each ring. Houston Amateur Radio Supply also had a table, but didn’t have very many products at all, not as many as I would expect to see from a commercial table.
Overall, prices were only fair. KC5ONZ picked up a Yaesu FT-857D, with original box, mic, cables, bracket, along with the matching Tuner, for a very good deal. He had mentioned finding the same thing online, for $20 more, but which didn’t include the matching tuner. So this was a good find. In fact I think he bought it from Houston Amateur Radio Supply.
Two of the “crack smoking” prices I found were a Kenwood TM-742 tri-bander, which included 2M/220/440 modules, and was in fantastic shape, but was priced at $699. The other item was a Icom IC-706II radio, the version without 70cm, priced at $525. I’m pretty sure neither of these sold due to the outrageous prices on them, but I didn’t stay until the end to verify.
To conclude: I enjoyed this hamfest. It was small, and we didn’t stay long, but I was very happy to see the number of attendants who arrived and the level of interest that was shown. I can’t think of another Hamfest closer to the center of the DFW metroplex, so this one seems to pull from all over. I think the location is a large part of why it had a good turn out.