Belton Hamfest Spring 2014 Review

This past weekend, March 29, was the Spring edition of the Belton Ham Expo. This was my first Spring Hamfest at Belton, and while it had been reported to me that the Spring one was smaller than the Fall one, I really didn’t know what to expect. Additionally, I actually purchased a table at this Hamfest and setup a few items for sale. This was my first time to ever sell at a Hamfest, but I really enjoyed it so I am planning to do it again.

The Hamfest overall was good. I think they had a record number of people in attendance. I was listening to a couple of people on the Eddy 2-meter repeater on my way home after the show was over, and they were saying that they believed the attendance number was higher than average. The weather was very nice too, so lots of people tail-gating and participating in the outdoor parking lot.

Inside, I saw very few empty tables and tailgate spaces. In the center of the room, they actually have parking spaces where vendors can drive a car into the building and park to sell items out of the back of a truck or van. “Tail-gating” indoors. Pretty cool.

There was a large lack of vendors during this Hamfest, much more than I have seen in the past. Most notably, both Main Trading Company and Houston ARS were missing from the festivities. I didn’t expect to see Main Trading Company there due to some issues they had in the past with Belton (I have no details on this, just what I have read on their Twitter and Facebook accounts) but I was surprised that Houston ARS was missing. Perhaps we will see them this Fall, on the first weekend in October for the Falls Ham Expo.

Prices weren’t all that great, either. Just a few examples of what I saw were:

  • Icom 706MKII for $500 (not the “G” version, so no 440, and only 20 watts on 2-meter)
  • Several Icom IC-7000s for $900-$1000, used. Dx Engineering has them brand new for $1079 right now with free shipping.
  • Kenwood TS-2000 for $1100 in decent used condition, but MTC has them for $1399, brand new with free shipping.
  • NO dual-band mobile radios. I saw several 2-meter only radios, but we never did find any dual-bands until the very last hour. 1 used vendor had a TM-731 buried under some other stuff.
  • NO 900MHz equipment. Several of the people selling Motorola gear had 800MHz radios, but when I asked them about 900MHz, they acted like they had never heard that question before. They are obviously unaware of all the 900MHz activity in DFW.

Overall I’d say the Hamfest was worth attending, but was weaker than previous times. In the Fall, I hope to see as many people, but hopefully a few more vendors, and some more reasonable prices on gear.