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What is ARRL Field Day?
The short answer is Field Day is ham radio's open house.
Field Day is a radio communications event that brings together amateur radio operators (also called “hams”) within your community. The event is part picnic, campout, practice for emergencies, informal contest, and most of all, fun! ARRL Field Day is the most popular ham radio activity held annually in the US and Canada. On the fourth weekend in June each year, more than 35,000 radio amateurs get together with their clubs, groups, or friends to operate from remote locations.
It is a time when many aspects of amateur radio come together to highlight its many roles. While some will treat it as a contest, other groups use the opportunity to practice their emergency response capabilities. It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate radio communications to the general public and organizations that amateur radio might serve in an emergency. For many radio clubs, ARRL Field Day is one of the highlights on their annual calendar.
The contest part involves contacting as many other stations as possible while learning to operate radio gear in abnormal situations and less than optimal conditions.
These same skills are utilized to help with large, preplanned, non-emergency events such as marathons and bike-a-thons; fundraisers such as walk-a-thons; celebrations such as parades, and exhibits at fairs, malls, and museums.
Despite the development of very complex, modern communications systems — or maybe because they are so complex — ham radio has been called into action, again and again, to provide communications in crises when it really matters. Hams are well-known for their communications support in real disaster and post-disaster situations.