Orlando HamCation® “a Grand Success” as First ARRL Regional Centennial Convention
Orlando HamCation® — the inaugural ARRL Regional Centennial Convention — was “a grand success,” according to ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN. She headed up the contingent representing the League at the February 7-9 event in Florida. The 68th HamCation was the first of six such regional events planned to mark the League’s 100th anniversary celebration this year.
“There was a really good vibe among the people I met at this event, and it was a fine kick-off to the series of regional centennial conventions,” said Craigie, who noted that this was her first visit to the Orlando ham radio gathering. She deemed attendance excellent. “The crowd was so thick on Saturday, especially, that I was reminded of my early visits to Dayton, when you could walk around inside the building and not be able to see your own feet for minutes at a time.” HamCation 2014 Chairman Peter Meijers, AI4KM, has estimated that some 12,000 visitors attend the event each year. The Orlando Amateur Radio Club (OARC) sponsors HamCation.
The ARRL President said the crowds around the ARRL both kept everyone busy. On hand from ARRL Headquarters were Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH; Sales and Marketing Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, and Circulation/Member Services Manager Yvette Vinci, KC1AIM.
Hobart agreed with Craigie’s attendance assessment. “The attendance seemed very robust,” she said, adding that the ARRL forum was packed. “I spent my time in the meet-and-greet area with Kay and other dignitaries, mostly handing out Centennial coins — about 2000 of them! They are very much in demand.”
Craigie reported hearing “a lot of enthusiastic comments” regarding the ongoing W1AW portable operations. “Also, I met a number of people whom I’ve worked in the ARRL Centennial QSO Party,” she added. Special event station W100AW/4 was on the air from the event throughout the weekend. Both Craigie and Hobart said that many visitors told them they planned to be at the ARRL Centennial Convention in Hartford this July.
“The mood was very upbeat,” Hobart said, “and I hope it will be duplicated at the other regional conventions this year. As the first of the six, it was certainly a success.”
The next ARRL Centennial Regional Convention will be at Dayton Hamvention® May 16-18. The idea behind the regional conventions was to, in effect, take the ARRL Centennial celebration to more radio amateurs across the US.
“While ARRL has planned a premier national-level Centennial Convention for 2014 in Connecticut, organizing some regional events will encourage greater awareness for the anniversary and greater participation by members, for whom traveling to New England will be too far, too costly, or otherwise not practical,” Inderbitzen suggested when he proposed the concept to the ARRL Executive Committee last fall.
Sanctioning the regional centennial events also was aimed at enhancing the all-volunteer ARRL Field Organization, generating greater interest in League membership, program, services and publications, and helping to promote the ARRL’s Second Century Campaign.
The other upcoming ARRL Centennial Regional Conventions are:
SEA-PAC — Seaside, Oregon, June 6-8, 2014
Ham-Com — Plano, Texas, June 13-14, 2014
Huntsville Hamfest — Huntsville, Alabama, August 16-17, 2014
Pacificon — Santa Clara, California, October 10-12, 2014