We attended the OzarkCon QRP Conference in Branson, Missouri this weekend. The event was held at the Stone Castle Hotel and Conference Center. Nearly 200 attended, a record for the event. The facilities were first-rate but I could imagine this conference outgrowing these accommodations over the next few years.
This was a first time visit for me and because it was in Branson, my wife joined me in the radio adventure. The 550 mile, nine-hour, one-way drive was at the limit for how far I’m willing to drive anywhere until after I retire.
The conference officially opened on Friday evening with registration, vendor swap (tables available), and the banquet dinner. This year’s speaker was Tom Vinson, NY0V who spoke about his role in the Eustace Earhart Discovery Expedition. His talk held both mine and my wife’s attention for several hours as he stuck around patiently answering questions from the audience for a long time.
Later that first evening was the kit-building session with everyone who signed up for it assembling the brand new 30 meter Cricket transceiver kit.
Saturday was an all-day session of individual speakers kicked-off by Bob Heil, K9EID and his Pine Board Project. Other morning speakers continued to drive home the central theme which was to BUILD something.
After lunch came still more speakers including WD5AGO and NM0S who announced several new kits. When the track of speakers had ended the event moved directly into announcing winners of the HomeBrew Contest by category and then the main prize drawings. Over three hundred prizes had been donated with the grand prize being an Elecraft KX2.
Following dinner “on your own” on Saturday evening, there was still more revelry around the vendor and swap areas and then finally, a hidden transmitter hunt in the hotel.
The conference officially ended at 9:00am on Sunday morning though we were on the road and headed back to Indiana two hours earlier.
Having attended the Four Days in May event in Dayton more than a dozen times it’s difficult not to compare the two. While FDIM draws a larger crowd, OzarkCon was on par by every other measure. It’s all well organized and has been finely tuned by the 4SQRP group who has been at this for more than a decade.
My wife says “we will be back” which is as solid an endorsement as I can offer. If you’re a QRPer and can get to Branson, I’d recommend you not miss the opportunity to join the fun next time it rolls around.