Those who show up at the 7th annual Gray Hamfest Saturday will be riding the waves.
The radio waves, that is.
Chairman Charlie Stuchell said the event, an amateur radio event that was previously held at the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray, has moved to the Bristol Motor Speedway this year, and around 800-1,000 people from seven to eight surrounding states are expected to attend.
Starting around 6 a.m., Stuchell said traders will show up outside the main gates buying, selling or trading equipment stored in their vehicles to other ham radio enthusiasts.
The event will open officially at 8 a.m. at Gates 6 and 7 and will cost participants $6 to get into the event, which will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.
Stuchell said there are many things participants can visit and take part in during the daylong event.
“We do volunteer exams for people who want to get an amateur radio license or upgrade their current license to a higher grade,” he said. “We have some seminars. We have forums where we talk about different aspects of the hobby.”
Stuchell said the new location of the event also offers other attractions.
“We think it’s going to draw a lot more interest in people from perhaps further away, because Bristol Speedway is an internationally known location,” Stuchell said. “A lot of people, we think, will come not only to take part in the Hamfest, but they’ll want to take the tour of the race track and do a little sightseeing around the area as well.”
Concessions will be handled by the John Battle High School band and prizes will be given out to participants throughout the day.
“We give away close to $3,000 in prizes,” Stuchell said. “We have five major door prizes.”
He said while anyone can attend the event, the Hamfest is centered around amateur radio operators, as well as short wave listeners.
According to Stuchell, these amateur radios can assist in times of need, including emergencies, disasters and even some fundraising efforts.
“Amateur radio is very much public-service oriented,” Stuchell said. “Sometimes amateur radio is the only way to get communications through in the very beginning of an emergency situation.”
Stuchell said he and the other organizers are excited about the new location and are ready to get the Hamfest under way.
“We think it’s a great event and we’re just glad to be able to give back to the community and hopefully expand our hobby and anybody (that) wants to find out about ham radio, this is a good place to come and learn, walk around, look at the different types of equipment and meet some really good people,” he said.
The event will end around 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
For more information on the Gray Hamfest, visit www.grayhamfesttn.org.