Hamvention 2018 is done and over. The second time the event was conducted at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, Ohio was almost as muddy and miserable as the first time. Improvements had been made to alleviate some of the problems in the flea market, but rainfall before and during the big event made things uncomfortable. Again.
I posted about a hundred photos via Twitter. You can see those here, no account is required.
Kenwood teased with the TS-890S transceiver, also under glass.
Elecraft was showing a very portable two-band antenna, the AX1. Intended for pedestrian mobile or operation from a picnic table using 20 and 17. It’s not yet available.
There were many other new things but few really stuck out to me. The number of new DMR handheld transceivers might finally be slowing while the number of digital hotspot options continues to grow.
Bumping into old and new friends remains the highlight of Hamvention for me. Finding a dry spot to sit and enjoy fellowship was next to impossible. Once again, the food was much better than we ever had at Hara Arena. But a coffee truck that was there on Friday went missing on Saturday and finding a cup of coffee was harder than hell. That probably put me in as sour a mood as the rain.
The crowd seemed smaller to me than last year but that’s really tough to measure over so many acres. I noticed there were no traffic snarls this time. Plenty of parking was available on Friday and Saturday and there was no long line to get into the fairgrounds. It was either a smaller crowd or the logistics have improved considerably. Maybe both?
This was my 37th visit in the last 42 years. Living only a hundred miles away, it became an annual tradition I never wanted to miss. But as the years have passed, I’ve become much less tolerant of the facilities.
Hara Arena had slowly become a full-on dumpster fire without a future and the move to a new location was necessary, but it seems clear to me now that the Greene County Fairgrounds isn’t suitable for Hamvention.
If you could get 72F with blue skies, low humidity, and one week without rain, then the fairgrounds could be ideal. But even the best event organizers in the world can’t control the weather and unless DARA is willing to move Hamvention into early autumn where the weather is more predictable, May in Ohio will remain a crapshoot that the house can’t win.
Besides the venue, I find no compelling reason for me to visit Hamvention again. I haven’t brought anything home from the massive flea market there in decades. As for new gear, I’d gladly pass on any “show discount” to have it delivered directly to my door. The last thing I want to do is lug a heavy new transceiver through rain and mud to my car parked a mile away.
I certainly plan to return to Dayton next year, but I’ll stay in town. Attend FDIM or Contest University. The DX banquet. The Contest dinner, the RTTY dinner, the TopBand dinner, the FlexRadio dinner, etc.
Maybe host a beer-bash with my friends. All inside a climate controlled hotel conference room, pub or local restaurant. I’m done with the mud, improvised toilets, humidity and smelly crowds.
I was 17 years old when I first visited Hamvention. I’ll be 60 years old when the gates open in 2019. I’m happy to hand this tradition over to a another generation as I’m just getting too old to enjoy this one anymore.