Um… what’s a SwapFest?

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  • Buy tickets or reserve table space to sell your stuff here
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So, what is a SwapFest?

You might be new to Amateur Radio, so let me introduce you to the idea of a SwapFest. Most are short, half-day events, but some national events (such as the Dayton HamVention) can last for several days. Our Fest is one of the half-day-long variety, but we pack a lot into that day!

The biggest component of the event is the “swap” part. Early in the morning, about 100 tables are filled with the widest range of products. Some tables are manned by local dealers who can introduce you to the latest in digital communication tools. Others sell antennas that allow you to connect to everything from the friendly ham up the block, to satellites in orbit in space. There are vendors offers study guides which can help you take the next step in your radio journey. Others have high-quality used equipment to help you stretch your dollar. Others offer parts for the hobbyist, and controls to help run your smart home.

Then we have tables with the weirdest range of stuff you might find interested. Some have called it “Rummage-O-Rama with a power cord” and you’ll find stuff you just don’t get to see anywhere else. This is what you’ll often read about when a reporter stumbles through an event like this for their first time: “I bought a World War II tube radio!”

Headlines like this miss the more important parts. We’re sponsoring “Club Corner” again this year, a place to meet up with local ham clubs to learn more and have fun. Ham radio attracts people from all walks of life, because it provides tools to carry on when everything falls apart. We’ve all felt those helpless moments when power takes out the power and the cell phone. Ham radio gives you the power to communicate to get help, even at moments like that.

TCARC operates a local ham radio repeater, a radio network that allows you to use a very small, hand-held radio to communicate to other hams over a very wide area. In our case, we cover the bulk of three Wisconsin counties: Jefferson, Rock and Walworth. When you hear severe weather has been reported in our area, very often this information has been reported by volunteers communicating over a “weather net” on a repeater like ours.

SwapFests also fill one very important role: they help pay for the equipment we as a club use to make that possible. Under FCC rules, hams can’t get paid to do what we do. Fund-raising events like this provide a year-round benefit for our community. Linked with the hundreds of hours of time our members volunteer for community event, severe weather events, and other local emergencies, your attendance ticket empowers us to make these vitals services to our community possible.

How do I get tickets?

If you’d like to join into the fun, you can show up after 8 AM at the Jefferson County Fair Park, located at 503 N Jackson in Jefferson WI (maps and directions here) where tickets will be $10 per person. Kids 10 and under are free. If you’d like to save time waiting in line AND save 20%, you can order your tickets using our online ordering system or by clicking the ticket symbol at The Fest is open until noon, but the best deals come early.

See you on March 17th!

Questions? Drop a comment below or send us an email at

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