The origins of the Huntsville Hamfest date back to August 1954 when the annual North Alabama Hamfest alternated between the communities of Huntsville, Decatur, and Florence. After a few years the Hamfest was held in Decatur in the odd numbered years and in Huntsville in the even numbered years. The Huntsville location was in the lobby of what was known as “The Mall”, located at the corner of University Drive and the Parkway, and was a one-day (Sunday) event with an outdoor flea market and a Saturday night banquet. Several ham organizations used upstairs rooms for meetings but there were no forums.
In 1980 the North Alabama Hamfest used the just-opened Von Braun Center. It was still a one-day event but now the Flea Market was indoors and there were much better facilities for meetings & forums. With the success of the 1980 event, in 1981 the North Alabama Hamfest became the Huntsville Hamfest, a two-day event with forums, meetings, and other activities on both days.
Since 1981 the Hamfest has grown to use 100K square feet of air-conditioned space in the VBC South Hall, with additional space available to meet expanding needs. Today the Hamfest offers a growing list of commercial vendors, a notable list of Forum presenters with many drawn from the local high tech aerospace community, and a vibrant indoor flea market. A Youth Lounge, with a focus on demos & kit-building for folks of all ages was added in 2010. Its popularity drove the organizers to increase the size of the Youth Lounge by 50% in 2018.
Throughout the growth of the Huntsville Hamfest the local Huntsville Amateur Radio Club, founded in 1952, and other clubs have supplied a large group of dedicated & friendly volunteers help to ensure a pleasurable weekend.
The Huntsville Hamfest has hosted the ARRL Alabama Section convention and in alternate years the Southeastern Division convention. Twice, in 1993 and 2007, Huntsville has hosted the ARRL National convention.
Never outgrown however, is the small town southern hospitality we extend to our visitors & vendors. Once you experience The World’s Friendliest Hamfest, we’re sure you’ll agree and will want to make Huntsville a regular destination on your annual Hamfest schedule.