Our Mission: The Grand Tradition Continues…
It has been suggested that I provide a Mission Statement for The NEAR-Fest. My first thoughts were that our mission is to buy, sell and swap as much stuff as we can, cruise and peruse the grounds until we can walk no more, drink a lot of Coca-Cola, eat plenty of greasy junk food, socialize with friends and generally just have a rollicking good time every 6 months. However, I also figured if I am going to have a Mission Statement then I should also have a mission to do some good work that will benefit the amateur radio community. So, here it is:
NEAR-Fest is incorporated in the State of Vermont as a non-profit corporation. Financial resources accumulated in excess to our operating expenses, costs, and reasonable reserve for contingencies will be used to engage in projects that will ensure the future of amateur radio by attracting newcomers to our Hobby with a special emphasis on young people. Additionally we will support efforts to protect, preserve and expand the legal rights and privileges we currently enjoy and to pass them on to successive generations of radio amateurs.
Although statistically the number of hams is increasing every year it seems that fewer and fewer attend hamfests. We rarely see many young people at our events because there are so many activities competing for their time. Even grade-schoolers have their full schedules. They are truly busy people even at a young age. It is also a hard fact of life that if we don’t attract new blood to our hobby it’s going to slowly wither and die of old age. And, we’d better do it soon!
Towards this end, we cordially invite anyone under the age of 18 to attend free of charge as our guests. We are hoping that many of the clubs in the area will prepare exhibits and conduct demonstrations of some of the different aspects of the hobby. I fail to see how operating a satellite station or talking to an Astronaut in the Space Station can not grab someone’s interest. We’ve got to get them off the ‘Net and on the Air.
It was with this objective in mind that in 2008 NEAR-Fest conceived and financed the construction of an amateur radio station at the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium (now known as the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center) in Concord NH. The station was inaugurated in February 2011 and is now fully operational and on-the-air as KA1SKY! (Visit KA1SKY) In 2013 we upgraded the HF antenna system to a tower and directional beam antenna and this year (2014) we are in the process of installing a state-of-the-art DStar station at KA1SKY.
Additionally in the past we have made sizeable donations to the Shriners hospitals in Springfield MA, Montreal Canada and the Burns Center in Boston. In May 2013 we raised over $3,500.00 for the One Fund Boston to benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and provided equipment to the Mid-Coast CERT Team in Maine as well as several other benevolent projects.
Finally, (and perhaps most important): there is an ongoing barrage of aggressive and very real threats from commercial interests hungrily eyeing our most valuable resource – the amateur radio spectrum allocations. The radio businessmen along with their high-priced lawyers, consultants and lobbyists will stop at nothing sparing no expense in their attempts to grab frequencies from us if they can. Whether you are a member or not the ARRL is the only organization in the U.S.A. that is constantly vigilant and very proactive in protecting our portions of the radio spectrum, representing all amateur radio operators both here and on the international front. They have a very good track record over the years of ensuring that our privileges and legal rights are preserved. However the cost to maintain this effort is extremely high as well as ongoing and thus the ARRL Spectrum Defense Fund was created to help finance it. We feel it is incumbent on every licensed radio amateur to support this Fund. NEAR-Fest will match all contributions dollar-for-dollar up to $1,000.00 per year.
So, there you have it; our mission statement. It is what it is! So come to the our own old fashioned New England country hamfest, sell some stuff, buy some more, have a bite to eat, visit and schmooze with friends, throw a few bucks into the Spectrum Defense Fund drop bucket and have a truly great time, just like so many of us did for so many years back when the Hosstraders reigned supreme.
See you at Deerfield!
Mister Mike, W1RC