Greg Williams says amateur radio is a hobby with something in it for all types of personalities.
"You've got people who just enjoy talking to their friends on the radio," said Williams, a member of the Dalton Amateur Radio Club. "We've got people who use it to help out in emergencies. I volunteer with the local Emergency Management Agency. Most of us are trained as Skywarn spotters and work with National Weather Service to report storms and high winds and hail and things like that. There's people who enjoy competitions or communicating in Morse code."
Williams is chairman of the club's Hamfest committee that will host the 39th annual Dalton Hamfest on Saturday, Feb. 27, at the North Georgia Agricultural Fairgrounds, 500 Legion Drive in Dalton, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $5. The Dalton Noon Lions Club will sell refreshments, and local Boy Scouts will help with parking, accepting donations.
"Hamfest is basically a market for new and used radio equipment," Williams said.
The exhibitors will include companies showing off the latest in radios, antennas, wire and other supplies, as well as amateur radio operators, called hams, looking to sell or trade excess parts.
Williams said the show generally draws 1,000 to 1,400 people who come from across the Southeast and the nation. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors this year are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be provided.
Williams said those who are interested in getting involved in amateur radio are encouraged to attend. He said club members will be on hand to talk about their hobby and answer questions.
Whitfield County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Jeff Ownby said amateur radio operators play a vital role in responding to disasters.
"They are a resource we rely on, especially during severe weather," he said. "They usually put together a weather network where they report what they are seeing and we monitor that. All of our staff are amateur radio operators."