Few things short of a tornado will keep Clement Scheid from returning to Toledo's annual Hamfest electronics and computer show next year.
"Last year, I got a huge stereo for free. This year I got an Apple computer for free," the 13-year-old 7th grader from Bellevue, Ohio, Junior High said, smiling. "Though this time I was looking for video games."
Clement was among dozens of visitors at the 55th annual Hamfest milling around Recreation Hall One at the Lucas County Fairgrounds in Maumee Sunday checking out electronic merchandise - including antique radio lamps, ham radios, and laptop computers. The Toledo Mobile Radio Association puts on the show.
"Hams like to give stuff to kids for free to get them into the hobby," said Clement's father, Jeff Scheid, 46, a Monroeville, Ohio, mechanical engineer who builds computers as a hobby.
Mike Kehr, 58, an association member who calls himself "a ham," said that's true.
"We are here because it is our hobby, because it's fun," Mr. Kehr said. "But our hobby also educates and provides public service."
Besides giving their radio and computer accessories for free to interested children and swapping and selling the gear to each other, association members teach classes to seekers of an FCC amateur radio operator's license and provide first-hand information to the National Weather Service in case of severe weather, he said.
"What we also frequently do is provide additional communication lines in case of a disaster because other lines are either overloaded or broken," he said.
Associations members did just that during the severe weather episode this month when a tornado touched down in Defiance County.
For that purpose, they used ham radios, a variety of which was exhibited yesterday by different vendors, some of them local, others from places such as Pennsylvania.
David Winkel, 43, of South Toledo said attendance yesterday was higher and business was better than usual.
Mr. Winkel has been selling ham radios at the Hamfest for the last three to four years.
But it's the first time that he has sold several receivers within the first few hours of business.
Mr. Kehr said that's probably because of the spring weather, which lures people out of their homes, and because of the recession, which sends them looking for deals.
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