[AARA] AARA Hamfest Apology

Herman Campbell kn5grk at lusfiber.net
Sun Mar 15 19:07:48 CDT 2020


Good evening,

There comes a time in every organization when you are faced with 
adversity and how you fair is directly proportional to the strength of 
your team.  The Acadiana Amateur Radio Association was faced with this 
exact adversity for the 60th Annual Hamfest. From logistics, volunteers, 
vendors, venue, city officials, etc, we all know how difficult a task of 
this scale can be and it takes a machine firing on all cylinders to be 
successful.  Months of planning go into a successful hamfest and this 
year proved to be the most challenging yet. While just kicking off the 
60th Annual AARA Hamfest, we began receiving notifications on local news 
outlets and social media sites, that the Governor just declared a state 
of emergency amidst the COVID-19 virus.  Most of us didn’t think much of 
it until shortly later, the Mayor of the City of Rayne called to advise 
that we would be able to continue the Friday portion of our venue but 
the Saturday gathering would have to be canceled due to the event size.


Our initial reaction was similar to the wind being taken out of your 
sail, but there was no hysteria.  The AARA leadership gathered and 
discussed the news and rather than panicking about how this would impact 
our organization, the conversation was more along the lines of the 
following:

 1.

    How do we make the most out of the remaining hours of the event?

 2.

    Vendor notification.

 3.

    Visitor notification.

 4.

    How do we make everyone whole?


It was decided to continue as though we were in the final hours of the 
“Day 2” event and to continue to raffle off everything that we had on 
hand.  Pull all vendors in privately to break the news and ask for 
feedback. Make a general announcement to the public about the situation 
and the plans moving forward and finally, offer reimbursement to the 
folks who had pre-registered and did not make it yet.  As I sat back and 
observed, I saw the leadership of the AARA remain calm and rational; 
keeping everyone who had traveled to our venue a 1st priority.


As the news was delivered, you could see the disappointment in the air 
but everyone understood that these decisions were made at a higher level 
and it was completely out of our control.  You would have expected that 
everyone would have started flooding to the doors to leave, but that 
wasn’t the case. We began to receive an overwhelming amount of support 
from everyone there.  Some approached me and said “Hey man, it’s OK. 
Nothing you guys could have done to prevent this”, or “Don’t worry about 
this, we are already planning to come back next year”. These 
conversations were meaningful, it proved to me that we were doing things 
in the right manner.


We even received a monetary donation from a Louisiana Club, who wanted 
to remain anonymous.  They approached me and said that they understood 
the countless number of man-hours that go into making a successful event 
and they wanted to contribute to offset some of the cost.  To that 
Louisiana Ham Club, your act of professionalism & humbleness was greatly 
appreciated. On behalf of the AARA we wish you continued success and 
well-being.


To all who traveled near and far, we thank you for the continued 
support.  We are grateful to have such an understanding ham community 
and none of this would be possible without the support of everyone who 
attends.  Soon, this viral outbreak will be in our rear view mirror and 
we will get back to a sense of normalcy. In the interim, please keep our 
country in your prayers.


I opened by mentioning that how you fair is directly proportional to the 
strength of your team and the members of the Acadiana Amateur Radio 
Association truly demonstrated continued strength through this unnerving 
situation.  We are a stronger club than we were a year ago, and I am 
grateful to each of you for your continued contributions. While this 
Hamfest proved to be challenging it is important to remember that 
individually we are impressive, together we are unstoppable.


Respectfully,


Chris Ancelet - N5MCY

President - Acadiana Amateur Radio Association



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