Guide to September 2021 Ham Radio Contests

To many lovers of the fall season, September means Labor Day picnics, apple picking, football Saturdays and Sundays, and the beginning of “sweater weather”—all reasons to celebrate. To hams, you can add a range of amateur radio contests to the list of autumnal perks—some events that are off-the-beaten frequency, a few brand new ones, a flurry of State QSO Parties, and familiar contests amateurs routinely circle on their calendars in January. We’ve highlighted a few below:

International G3ZQS Memorial Straight Key Contest, September 1, 2300Z to September 3, 2300Z. Run by the CW FISTS Club, this event is a great opportunity to hone your straight key skills and pay your respects to a ham who was determined not to let the rhythmic sounds of dots and dashes fade quietly into the past. Founded in 1987 by Geo, G3ZQS, the CW FISTS Club (The International Morse Preservation Society) is dedicated to promoting Morse code around the world. The organization boasts chapters in the Americas, Australia, Europe, and East Asia. Learn more about the club’s activities here.

All Asian DX Contest Phone, September 4, 000Z to September 5, 2400Z. Now in its 62nd year, this event is hosted by the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL). Also of interest is the upcoming JARL Ham Fair 2021, October 2-3. The event was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, but it attracted 42,000 enthusiasts in 2019. Celebrating its 44th year, the 2021 event’s theme is: “Jump out to the new era and bring new breath for Amateur Radio youngsters,” an initiative that resonates throughout the ham world.

AGCW Straight Key Party, September 4, 1300Z to 1600Z. This event is sponsored by the AGCW-DL, Germany’s largest club of CW fans. Learn more about the group here.

ARRL September VHF Contest, September 11, 1800Z to September 13, 0300Z. Amateurs in the U.S. and Canada will be trying to work stations in as many 2 degree x 1 degree Maidenhead grid squares as possible using authorized frequencies above 50 MHz. Stations outside the U.S. and Canada may only work stations in the U.S. and Canada. All legal modes are permitted, including CW, SSB, FT8, MSK144, FM-Only, PSK31, FSK441, and JT65.

Ohio State Parks on the Air, September 11, 1400 UTC to 2200 UTC (10 am to 6 pm Eastern Time). With DX Engineering proudly rooted in the Buckeye State, this annual event is near and dear to our ham radio hearts. Tom, KB8UUZ, DX Engineering technical writer, is the chairman of what will be the 14th edition of this outdoor operating event that highlights Ohio’s beauty and diversity. If you’ve never activated a park, here’s an OnAllBands article on what you’ll need for successful portable operations.

Also, don’t miss the flora, fauna, frequencies, and fun of Wisconsin Parks on the Air, September 18, 1600Z to 2300Z (11 am to 6 pm local/CDT), sponsored by the Fox Cities Amateur Radio Club, W9ZL. If you’re very lucky, you may spot Wisconsin’s state animal, the wedge-shape-headed badger, which can be found throughout the state. However, because the animal is notorious for its ability to elude humans, you’re more likely to catch a glimpse of one on the state flag or on the many T-shirts featuring Bucky Badger, the University of Wisconsin’s red-pinstriped mascot.

Masonic Lodges on the Air, September 25, 1400Z to 2200Z. “The idea for the Masonic Lodges on the Air Contest grew out of the realization that many Freemasons have a love for Amateur Radio,” the event’s official website reads. The idea is to see how many Masonic Lodges you can contact in a day on 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters SSB. You do not need to be a Mason to participate, but organizers ask that you get permission from your local lodge to contest from their property. Get complete rules here.

U.S. State QSO Parties:

  • Colorado: September 4, 1300Z to September 5, 0400Z
  • Tennessee: September 5, 1800Z to September 6, 0300Z
  • Alabama: September 11, 1500Z to September 12, 0300Z
  • Texas: September 18, 1400Z to 0200Z  and September 19, 1400Z to 2000Z
  • Iowa: September 18, 1400Z to September 19, 0200Z
  • New Jersey: September 18, 1600Z to September 19, 0359Z
  • New Hampshire: September 18, 1600Z to 0400Z, and September 19, 1600Z to 2200Z
  • Washington State Salmon Run: September 18, 1600Z to 0700Z, and September 19, 1600Z to 2400Z
  • Maine: September 25, 1200Z to September 26, 1200Z

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