The 2019 Texoma Hamarama festival drew hundreds of visitors and dozens of vendors to the Ardmore Convention Center on Saturday. Technology fans, craft makers and the obvious amateur radio operator were able to browse new and used goods from nearly two dozen tables. This year marked the event's 72nd year, and much has changed about the event over the years.
For licensed amateur radio enthusiasts, a variety of radios, power supplies, cables, keys, and parts were available. For the tech savvy or just curious in attendance, vendors with computers, gadgets, books, crafts, and friendly conversation were also found. Regular raffles also helped raise money for the Texoma Hamarama Organization scholarship.
Longtime organizer Henry Allen now supports the region's amateur radio community by attending events. First licensed in 1976, he helped organize the Texoma Hamarama when it was held at the old Lake Texoma lodge. When that venue became unavailable, he also helped it relocate to Ardmore. “We’re tickled to death we moved up here," Allen said. "The city has welcomed us, the convention center’s been good to us. We’re just happy to be here.”
Roland Stolfa now helps organize the event and says he's seen slight growth in attendance in recent years. He mentioned this year was the first to see all tables rented and occupied for the event, something that bad weather has prevented in years past. “Just having all the tables covered with stuff is a big bonus,” he said.
Stolfa also talked about broadening the event in recent years to be a family festival. At the Texoma Hamarama, technology classes have been incorporated, and jewelry and craft services are also being invited to attend as vendors. “There’s so much to do with this hobby, and it’s a great way to help young people get into science and technology,” he said.
Technology used in amateur radio has also changed the event. Allen said the popular equipment when he first got into the hobby was mobile technology. On Saturday, Stolfa pointed out the robotics and computers that were available to visitors. “Whether it be amateur radios, robotics, engineering, there’s been something here for everybody,” he said.
Stolfa said the goal of these events is to grow involvement in amateur radio and estimated more than 400 people attended on Saturday. With such a close relationship between Texoma and severe weather, public safety and emergency preparation communities are modern fixtures in the hobby. “They too have an interest in communications that don’t require intervening hardware to make connections,” he said.