Hosstraders was a radio and electronics "Tailgating Swapfest" conducted at various venues in the State of New HAMpshire from May 1973 through October 2006. It was held at several different locations starting in Seabrook NH, (1973-75) thence to the Deerfield NH Fairgrounds (current home of NEAR-Fest) from 1976 to 1992 with a one-year side trip to Kingston Fairgrounds in 1986. In May 1993 the Hosstraders left Deerfield and relocated to the Rochester Fairgrounds (May 1993 - October 2000) then finally moving to the NH State Fairgrounds at Hopkinton NH (May 2001 to October 2006).
The Hosstraders were not a club or formal organization; they were three individuals: Bob Tiffany, W1GWU, Norm Blake, WA1IVB (now W1ITT) and Joe Demaso K1RQG (SK). Their event was best described as a "benevolent dictatorship." Hosstraders started out as a 75 meter swap net every Sunday afternoon. Originally the in-person swap meet was a one-day event, held on the second Saturday in May. In 1983 it was decided to hold the event twice annually and a few years later it became a two-day event. This was not by choice but because over the years people were arriving earlier and earlier until it reached the point that the Fair Association decided to charge the Hosstraders for an additional day.
The Hosstraders were a not-for-profit benevolent entity. The Simadi Shrine Club of Rochester NH worked with The Hosstraders to organize and run the event. Because The Hosstraders insisted that every penny went to the hospitals, the Simadi club donated the money directly to the hospitals, bypassing the state lodge in Concord NH. All monies raised in excess of their "pitiful" expenses were donated to a very worthy cause. During their 34 year run The Hosstraders raised 1.3 million dollars for the Shriners Hospitals for crippled children in Montreal and Springfield MA as well as the Shriners' Hospital Burns Unit in Boston.
In February 2007 The Hosstraders posted a notice on their Web site stating that the October 2006 event was their last. A new organization was immediately formed calling itself The New England Amateur Radio Festival, or NEAR-Fest to carry on the "Grand Tradition" instituted by The Hosstraders in 1973. On Mayq 4th, 2007, the radio enthusiasts of New England and Eastern Canada made a joyful return to their beloved Deerfield Fairgrounds where the event remains to this day.
The next NEAR-Fest will be held on Friday May 2nd and Saturday May 3rd 2014.