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North Carolina Radio Amateurs Adapt Tailgating Hamfest to the COVID-19 Pandemic


With most hamfests canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some radio amateurs in Raleigh, North Carolina, have come up with a way to adapt with a tailgate hamfest in an unused shopping center parking area. The event grew out of the so-called Ham Radio Taco Thursdays, begun many years ago by ARRL Life Member Alan Pitegoff, AB4OZ.

Pitegoff had to put his event on hold when the pandemic erupted. It was suggested that hams could gather and socialize at a safe distance by having a Taco Thursday with the taco truck outside in an adjacent empty parking lot. That event was a success, with participants remaining at their vehicles and bringing their own chairs. That success inspired holding a tailgate hamfest in the same spot, and it’s now turned into a monthly event, called the AB4OZ Hamfest.

Pitegoff said Taco Thursday started collecting more people — up to 15 or so — at Taco Thursday, and when Taco Bell closed due to the pandemic, the event moved to a Thursday on-the-air net, with one requirement — that participants could not talk about COVID-19.

The tailgate hamfest was established at the new location and held once a month on Saturday at 10 AM.

“I think this is a great, uplifting, and positive experience for all of us hams to get out and socialize,” participant Charles Murray, KI4DCR, said. “We might not be able to have a big hamfest, but these micro tailgate hamfests might be the future for a good while. I’ve met a lot of good people. There’s a lot of cool stuff out here, the weather’s great, you know, there’s plenty of space for everybody to be socially distanced. I think it's fantastic.” — Thanks to Martin Brossman, KI4CFS    



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