Hamvention, Hara, Amen

The big problem here is the BIG problem.

No one can say that the closing of Hara Arena came as a “shock”, or that it even qualifies as “news”. The future of the facility has been questionable for more than a decade. It would be impossible for recent visitors to have not noticed the crumbling structure and its surroundings. Still, I am deeply saddened that the Dayton Hamvention will no longer be conducted at Hara Arena.

Hara Arena

My first visit took place in 1976 when my friend and high school teacher invited me to tag along on a Saturday. We were working together on a QST project – a home brewed frequency counter – and needed parts that weren’t otherwise easy to obtain.

I fell in love with Hamvention that year and the following year, I returned with my girlfriend. Looking back, it couldn’t have been much of a “date” for her, but I suppose it wasn’t all bad – she married me the year after that.

Since then, I’ve attended Hamvention at Hara thirty-five times. It’s been an annual tradition for me like it has for so many others. I’m deeply indebted to Hamvention for having played a central role in keeping me enthused about the hobby. Some years family and career required more attention in ways that diverted me from radio. But every year, faithfully, the return to Hara Arena would re-kindle the flame of passion for radio that has burned in me since I built my first crystal radio.

Don’t kid yourself. I’ve read your QRZ bios. Most of you got involved in amateur radio at a young age like I did, but then dropped out, sometimes for decades, only to rediscover your passion later in life – with regrets for the time you lost. I got in the hobby and never got out. I’ve never gone months or years without being radio active. For nearly forty years. And much of the credit for that goes to Hamvention and the buzz it created in the months leading up to it, the big weekend, and then the afterglow for months after the gates had closed.

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Hamvention has been a big part of my ham radio life. I once took a job in January, telling my new employer that I needed a long weekend off in May. He agreed but as Hamvention weekend approached he changed his mind, told me I couldn’t have those dates off work. I quit. Hamvention was too important to me to let a job get in the way.

Perhaps then you will understand why when someone writes a blog post about the “decrepit” facility Hara Arena has become, I get my back up. Tweets that poke fun of the event or the facilities often leave me seething and there have been many (many, many, many) times that I’ve crafted the response, “fuck off and die”, before taking a deep breath, deleting that profanity, and responding in kinder fashion – defending the event in the face of torrents of criticism.

When some hams talk about Hamvention they propagate myths. The most laughable being this, “If Hamvention would move to a more modern facility, more people would attend”. This reveals a level of naïveté and ignorance not compatible with our technical service.

Hamvention has seen over 33,000 attendees in a single year – at Hara Arena – how many MORE people could possibly attend? Last year, despite the lousy bathroom situation, lack of HVAC in the meeting rooms, and crumbling asphalt in the flea-market, attendance topped 25,000.

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How much more can we expect a newer facility to attract? If there have been radio enthusiasts staying home because of the condition of Hara Arena, they are a well-kept secret or a tiny minority. Or both. It’s simply ignorance that asserts that people are staying away by the thousands because the bathrooms at Hara don’t smell dainty fresh.

And since I’m ranting about attendance, Hamvention is the largest such event in the world. End of story. Orlando is wonderful. I’ve been there twice. It’s a family vacation destination that takes place in a warm climate at the end of a long, hard winter. Why every ham doesn’t go there is a mystery to me. But it still doesn’t come close to the attendance of Hamvention. Friedrichshafen, the big European ham radio convention takes place in an ultra-modern facility in a beautiful part of Germany yet it attracts 10,000 fewer visitors than Dayton.

The other insane notion that has made the rounds in recent years is this: “Why don’t they move the Dayton Hamvention to Cincinnati, or Louisville, or maybe even Las Vegas?” Once again, I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out why the Dayton Amateur Radio Association might not want to hold their annual event in Nevada.

But this suggestion leaves me more sad than angry because it reveals an even deeper ignorance about the work involved in pulling off the largest ham radio show on the planet.

Hamvention requires hundreds of volunteers to pull it off. It’s not just selling tickets the day of the event. These volunteers take two weeks off after one Hamvention before beginning work on the next. It’s a year-long passion play for these volunteers and the result of their tireless effort is the success that is Hamvention.

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I frequently tell those who suggest the event be held in their hometown that all they have to do is organize a hamfest and get 30,000 people to show-up, then they can be number one. Easy, huh?

So what does the move to a new facility mean and how will it compare?

I’m certain that many Hamvention organizers are losing sleep over that question right now. Though they have always had contingency plans to quickly move the event if the need ever arose, actually pulling it off won’t be easy. You can plan all you want for a tornado but until the winds begin to blow it’s not “real”.

The big problem here is the BIG problem.

How many modern facilities are available that can accommodate 25 or 30 thousand attendees for three days? How many of those facilities have room for the largest radio flea-market in the world? Parking, proximity to airports and enough hotel rooms. And how many of those are available for $8 per person, per day?

The $21 million dollar question is how many of those will be willing to sign a long-term agreement?

That’s where Hara Arena was perfect. Hamvention took place at the same address annually for more than fifty years. After the first show at Hara, the event never moved. Dates did. The weather changed. People changed. Technology changed. The location did not. I’m not even sure buildings in the United States are built to last fifty years any more?

I can assert with supreme confidence that wherever Hamvention moves, there’s not a snowballs chance in hell that it will still be there in 50 years.

And that means Hamvention will move again. And again. And since words don’t cost much, “again”. The logistics of finding a new venue for that many people more than a few times will eventually erode attendance and fray organizers nerves.

Wherever it lands, the 2017 show will probably attract another sizable audience. After all, it’s Dayton, where else would serious radio enthusiasts congregate in May? Besides, there will be bragging rights. Who doesn’t want to be able to say that they attended the first post-Hara Hamvention in history?

The old arena is falling apart. It needs to be razed. I understand that as well as the haters. But I see something else at work here. This move is necessary and inevitable but it’s also a marker buoy warning that the age of the large hamfest is coming to an end.

I hope what follows will be as enjoyable, but it probably won’t.

My generation passes the torch to a new generation of radio amateurs who will make their own fun and conduct the business of hobby radio how they see fit.

The trajectory of these kinds of changes informs us that the future will be more efficient. No one need attend a sweaty hamfest when they can buy anything they need with one-click online and enjoy driveway delivery by drone.

Nothing is forever. Traditions end. Besides, who really wants to spend one long weekend in May rubbing elbows with DX legends, laying hands on the latest gadgets, meeting old friends and making new ones — if the bathrooms aren’t going to smell dainty fresh?

Author: Jeff Davis

 

22 thoughts on “Hamvention, Hara, Amen”

  1. I must give the Hamvention organizers got an A+ for the parking/transit bus system, as far as I could tell, it always went off without a hitch. Stories of this place will be passed on for a hundred years I’m sure.

  2. Dayton has been one of the highlights of my ham radio calendar since 1981 or 1982 and I’ve missed maybe 4 or 5 of them since my first trip. While I agree with all the positives you mention, the fact is that not just the Hara complex, but the city of Dayton itself is an international embarrassment. It’s twice as expensive to fly into Dayton from NYC as it is to fly to LA or San Francisco. Hotels are decrepit, crime is high in many areas and the overall feeling of spending time in Montgomery County is frankly depressing.

    You speak of rubbing shoulders with DX Legends. Do you have any idea how many of these haven’t been back in decades because the facilities are just plain awful? As a DXer and contester, I can tell you it’s a significant number.

    DARA should sell the rights to the Hamvention® name and let it move. I would personally like to see the flagship show for amateur radio be in a different city every year (perhaps even with bids to host put on by competing cities/organizations). This would ensure whole families would want to attend, with the non-ham spouse and kids having something to do other than an air force museum, which frankly is good for one or two visits if you’re interested in that kind of thing. Or at least settle in one location that has something for everyone.

    There are three factors driving Hamvention’s success: The flea market, the indoor exhibitors and the specialty forums/dinners/events. The latter two can and would thrive at any venue. Once a new show achieves critical mass, the smaller vendors who only do one big show a year will move to the new place. You don’t need anything other than a nearby hotel with a ballroom for the big dinners for contesters and DXers (and all the other special interests). What you need to get are the tons of local tail-gaters who won’t drive more than 2 or 3 hours. They’re the ones paying the true freight for Hamvention, and I would wager if you held the event in a bigger and better location you’d just get a different collection of attendees. Yes, it would take a few years to get back to 25,000 attendees, but get back it would, and I would argue it would grow considerably.

    Hams may be cheap, but there’s a pretty good subset of them that aren’t, who have serious coin invested in their stations and are successful and worldly enough to travel. They just choose not to come to Dayton for any of the reasons stated earlier. They almost certainly *would* if the event were held in new, modern, clean and accessible facility, in a city with plenty of hotels in all price classes, inexpensive car rentals and reasonably-priced non-stop flights from pretty well anywhere. Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, Dallas-Ft. Worth, any location in the mid-Atlantic region. All have excellent convention facilities of varying sizes and are much cheaper to fly into than Dayton.

    The mistake is catering exclusively to the penny-pinching guy with his 1975 station wagon loaded with boat anchors that have seen as many flea markets as he has himself. The flea market itself is fine, but I want to see a far greater focus on things like seminars–preferably in rooms that have air conditioning so you’re not ready to fall over at 4pm on Saturday when the annual Hamvention Monsoon™ is in full swing. International pavilions like Friedrichshafen has, focusing on various national societies’ accomplishments and aspirations in the hobby and putting a true global face on a truly global hobby. Climate-controlled Indoor vending spaces rather than outdoor (again, see F’shafen for how this is done right). Plumbing that’s up to modern code, without the ever-present chance of a $#!+ volcano that the Hara experienced in 2011. Cater to the international visitor and the international visitors will attend–and spend!

    The current admission price is pathetically low for a 3-day trade show. Put it in a decent convention center and charge a bit more. You won’t lose money in the long run. The skin-flints will stay home but the those who appreciate a good show will come if it’s $40 or even $50 for a 3-day or 4-day event. And yes, I would propose a 4-day show, Thursday through Sunday, with everything under one roof, not spread out between the Hara and the big events at the Crowne Plaza.

    I have been to Friedrichshafen and I will go back. The last time I went there were 18,000 attendees (compared to Dayton’s roughly 22-23,000). I had a FAR better experience there than I ever did in terms of what I saw and learned than I ever had at Dayton. Now, couple that kind of experience with having all your friends attend and you truly have something special. That’s what Hamvention® needs to become. It takes vision, desire and willingness to gamble a bit in the short term, but the results could be spectacular. I’ll take 10 years of growing pains if the result in a decade is something to truly be an international showcase for the hobby.

    1. A bit of contradiction in your response…. You advocate flying to a city with cheaper flights. But you argue that entry fees were too low. Many of us don’t fly there; we drive. We are the show. We bring the equipment that is for sale indoors and out in the flea market. Indoor vendors run on tight budgets. Moving to a larger city involves the use of union labor that will absolutely kill the event. I’ve done many shows in Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas, San Francisco and elsewhere. The labor is generally very good. But it comes at a very high price. Hamvention needs to remain at a venue where exhibitors and flea market attendees and participants alike can afford it. Case in point: My cost this year for our small group was $480 in flea market space costs, another $120 in advanced ticket purchase price, nearly $400 in fuel expenses, and, altogether for our group of 6, just over $900 in room expenses. We don’t make that up; we are lucky to come close. We do it because we attend the sessions, we get to see friends this one time a year, and we do it for the comorodery. It is very easy to propose a city with cheap airfare. It may save you money but there won’t be much to see. Most vendors will stop coming, the flea market will be non-existent, and the disruption to the norm will relegate Hamvention to the history books. I’ve been to Florida; I’ve been to Germany. Neither approaches Dayton from several standpoint. They are both good. But Hamvention is king. We shall see where they end up and if they are successful. It is very hard to organize an event of this level. Despite Dayton itself being kind of a less attractive city, the group itself more than makes up for it. I, for one, root for their success. But, there are many other hamfest out there. You are certainly welcome to fly to any of them.

    2. It’s interesting that some say that Hams will go there no matter what. I’m a relatively new Ham by some standards, first licensed in 1999. And I had gone to Dayton pretty religiously, enjoying everything but the orrible state of the Hara Arena. But it was getting bad – I would never eat any of the food sold there, and it was getting sadder and sadder every year. Finally, in 2011, when the sewer line broke in the flea market area, spreading fecal matter and urine all over the place, I had decided that enough was enough. I do not think that an updated Hep vaccine should be a requirement for attendance.

      When you look at a fest like Orlando Hamcation, which I attended for the first time this year, it is quite literally like a breath of fresh air. Clean facilities, the rest rooms did not stink nor were wet with urine on them, and was a overall much better experience than Hamvention.

      And I suppose I will infuriate some folks for whom Dayton was and is a perfectly acceptable experience. But the big hamfests should be about meeting up with old and new friends, checking out and buying new equipment and flea market bargains, not about the sad state of the facility it’s housed in and the resulting deathwatch. I enjoyed Dayton for a number of years, and it was simply time. It’s kind of like losing an old friend that lapsed into indigence the last decade or so of life. But not all ends are for the worst.

      I can say that I will specifically be going to Hamvention in 2017 and beyond, especially since it will be in a different facility. If it was still Hara, I would not go.

      Long live Hamvention!

  3. Yes, the admission price is low–getting a significantly better venue will increase the admission cost but the benefit will be a place people will look forward to attending, not dreading. I don’t mind paying more at the gate if I get comfort, convenience, full ADA compliance and a layout that makes it easy to move from event to event; seminar to vendors, hotel rooms to banquet facilities, all under one roof with maybe a couple of big overflow hotels. Picture the ARRL 100th Anniversary event in Hartford on a much larger scale.

    My thought is to take the best parts of both Dayton and Friedrichshafen and put them together for one big show. Dayton is all about buying and selling mostly, as well as the social aspects. FN focuses more on international goodwill and European national society activities. We see a trifle of this in the Ballarena, near the ARRL booth. RSGB, RAC, DARC and the A7 group have good presences, and I think JARL as well. I’d like to see more of these. They’re fascinating. I’m far less interested in shooting the breeze in the flea market all weekend than I am in seeing the state of the radio art from around the world, learning new techniques and seeing what’s new from the indoor vendors. I want good food choices at lunch and a place to sit and eat comfortably, clean restrooms and easy transport to/from my vehicle. To DARA’s credit, the Salem shuttle works extremely well in that last regard and I applaud them in finally getting that right after years of legendary bus queues before the RTA got involved.

    I too go to trade shows from time to time and conferences that are in the $50-75 range for a weekend, with single-day passes available at lower cost for day trippers. The target audience for these shows includes people with far less means than the amateur community, and that’s saying something! A $50 full-weekend ticket in a good space might only get 15,000 attendees rather than 25,000. But 15,000 @ $50 is $750,000 in gate fees alone; add selling spaces and other costs and revenue would easily cover the venue costs–even with union labour in SOME cases (though certainly not all).

    Again, I point to Friedrichshafen. 17k to 20k attendance is common, modern facilities, excellent food and dining area between the exhibit halls, all the new and used equipment vendors are inside hangar-like halls, ample FREE parking and FREE shuttle buses to the town center. Combine something like that with Dayton’s DX, Contest, Topband and other banquets (something FN sadly lacks), Contest University, the Spurious Emissions Band concert, the Contest Super Suite and night-time room parties in the Crowne Plaza and you have an event that’s WELL worth flying across the globe to attend. And if you’re a new or local ham, a single day pass for $20 gives you everything you have now. This is the perfect opportunity for a skilled trade show operator to step in and do this RIGHT. I hope it comes to pass!

  4. One point for the record, this year’s attendance at Friedrichshafen was 17,320. It’s notable because that’s about one-half the attendance at Dayton in the early 1990s and about 8,000 less than Dayton in 2016. It should be noted that amateur radio is experiencing a decline in Germany presently and that might account for the lower turnout.

    It seems that integral to this conversation are definitions — a “hamfest” and a “convention” aren’t the same things, though a “ham-vention” seems to marry the two. That’s what was unique about what DARA did when they mangled the two to create the beast. Since then, others have copied that formula with varying success.

    More on this concept and if it has a future, in another post.

    Your comments are appreciated.

    73, Jeff

    1. I have to say, the huge crowds that Dayton used to attract have been related to me by peolpe who were there, that they hated it. Wall to wall people, and having to do the trade booth shuffle.
      Ham radio in general is in a transition mode. As the oldest are sadly starting to exit permanently, there is a real divide New folks are not that interested in going to hamfests, many of the hamfests I used to go to are starting and ending earlier – The last time I went to Timonium, there were people packing up and leaving at 9:30 in the morning. The private vendors were selling to each other and leaving.

      As the transition between the old and the new hams continues, there are so many examples of the great divide. Opening a facebook page for the bonus points in Field day, I thought that there would be no traffic. But the younger members, and the older ones that are still active, are using it to the exclusion of our email reflector as in at least quadruple the traffic, while I have gotten complaints from some members on the reflector that they want on the list, but don’t want to get any email they aren’t interested in.

      And it’s easy to see who is who. I might make a club presentation on software defined radio, and some folks sit and talk among themselves about how Amateur radio is dying, or laugh at the presentation – one even told me that the problem with my Flex radio is that it isn’t a radio at all.

      Dayton, and the need for it to have moved a long time ago, and now mercifully forced on DARA by HARA going defunct, is not remotely a bad thing. It isn’t hate when you complain about a building that should have been condemned, when you are embrassed to take your wife to the place, it’s a complaint. And as a wise man once told me – a complaint is a gift. As Ham radio is changing, DARA has been given a great gift, disguised as a hardship. I’ll see everyone where ever it is next year.

  5. Dayton would never see those 35k numbers again in any venue–even a pristine Hara–thanks to eBay, etc. 25-plus years ago if you wanted that esoteric accessory Dayton was pretty well it, plus maybe some big regionals (I’m thinking Rochester and Timonium and Frostfest in the northeast, for example). Melding a convention into a hamfest makes complete sense now; more than it would have in 1990. As the technical/builder class of hams ages out, they’re being replaced by a legion of equipment operators.

    New horizons are opening up within the hobby, and it’s more new gear and new technologies that are of interest to up-and-comers. Conventions with hands-on seminars and new equipment vendors are more relevant to this lot (myself included). Sure, getting together with old and new friends is great, but the idea of a hamfest existing solely for its flea market (which really WAS the big attraction to Hamvention in that bygone era) is long past its sell-by date.

    I would also hasten to add that thinking of Friedrichshafen as a German convention/hamfest would equate to thinking of Dayton as an Ohio hamfest. FN is a European show; nations instead of states on this side of the Atlantic. While DL is seeing a dropoff, that slack is easily being picked up elsewhere, most notably Italy and eastern Europe. Wandering around Hall 1 is like globetrotting for a day. Seeing what’s new in the hobby from the point of view of the Finns, Russians, Swedes, Israelis, even the Belgians, that’s fascinating to me. Then seeing all the vendors of gear that never make it to Dayton. Their flea market is similar to Dayton’s, only the boat anchors have Russian or German markings on them, and the beer is vastly tastier.

    Since DARA won’t move the show out of the Miami Valley, however, I don’t expect any of my dreams for a better venue to come true. In fact, I expect the next few to be significantly worse since so much space has been lost. If I had to guess at a long-term answer, what I see is the county or another private investor stepping in to buy the Hara complex, slapping a coat of paint and a new sign on it and back to the status quo. That’s my real fear, to be honest. “La plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” and all that.

    1. A fresh coat of paint won’t hide the infrastructure deterioration. I cannot imagine the place passing modern code inspections, and The Hara was probably grandfathered in, and that would end once it changed hands.

  6. And so now the second shoe has dropped. It’s been moved to the Greene County Fairgrounds in “downtown” Xenia, about a half hour east of downtown Dayton. It’s a venue for cattle auctions. Seriously.
    Here’s the link: http://www.greenecountyfairgrounds.com/rental-facilities

    LIVESTOCK 1 (of 3)
    150’ X 160’

    Pens are in place
    Can be used for animal shows or sales
    Show arena and bleachers in building
    NOT heated or air conditioned
    Independent sound system in building
    Cement floors

    ASSEMBLY HALL
    70′ X 170′

    The Assembly Hall is perfect for reunions, receptions, proms, flea markets, antique shows, garage sales, birthday parties, social events, auctions, fund raisers, get-togethers. Rent entire building (seats approx. 750) or rent one-half building (seats approx. 350). Room can be divided by wall. The Dining Hall has features to make it as versatile as your event is unique. This building has almost the same amenities of those twice its size. Rent entire building (seats approx. 250).

    Heated and air conditioned
    Carpeted floor
    Portable stage available
    Large Restrooms
    Catering Kitchens
    15,000 sq. ft.
    Sound system available
    Chairs and tables available.
    Paved and lighted parking lot adjacent to building

    What. The. Actual. @#$%.
    An overhead view of the facilities:
    https://www.google.com/maps/@39.6994259,-83.9384319,848m/data=!3m1!1e3

  7. Seriously, if the organizers of Hamcation don’t seize this opportunity to bring down as many Dayton attendees as possible they’re as bad as DARA’s board. They should be buying ad space in QRM–er–QST magazine, CQ and on QRZ, eHam, etc.

  8. Way back in this topic, Peter mentioned that it might be better housed in a different city. (or cities) And if a cowbarn is as good as DARA can do, maybe its time to do just that. There is a market for the whole Hamfest/Convention experience, and if we are going to exchange a dump for a smaller cattle barn experience, DARA shouldn’t be surprised if the market doesn’t provide another group willing to provide the big picture experience.

    I kind of doubt that a different city every year event could happen, as that would take a group of Amateurs to form a corporation and have paid mployees to do all of the legwork – and there is a lot of legwork. But it is possible to recreate the Dayton experience by another club willing to put in the work.

    With an emphasis on putting in the work

    1. Funny, not more than 10 seconds ago i hit the SEND button on an email to a friend who I’ve been discussing these events with. I wrote this (in part) to him:

      “I agree with you — this is going to be positive. I think it’s going to be a lot more rustic than some are going to like. There are a certain number of hams who are begging for a large, Las Vegas styled ham radio convention with lots of air-conditioning, open bars, hookers, and good times. I think they *think* they want a CES or NRA convention experience and they seem to be okay if the three day ticket price is $150. I say good for them, and go for it. I might even visit. But the Dayton Hamvention ain’t that. Not by a country mile.”

      The option has ALWAYS been there for any club or organization, in any city or state to launch their own ham radio convention. The market will decide if that effort eventually becomes a “Major Ham Radio Convention”. No one needs the Dayton folks or their trademarked name to make that happen. But then, no one has managed to pull that off yet — perhaps some day?

      73, Jeff

      1. Sure. And make no mistake – some outfit will have to put in the work. For that, I give DARA great kudos. I’ve organized and put on large events – star parties to be exact, and the amount of work needed is huge. Permits, electrical, movers, food, the whole works in a big field that has to go away the day after No small task at all.

        Now that being said, DARA made the mistake of hitching their wagon to a fading star. You can see the posts from the early 2000’s seaking of the downward spiral. As of late as last year, they were talking about the big changes coming to Hara arena. For all their hard work, they allowed their loyalty to Hara to become a priority. Which was at one time, a perfect venue – or asclose to one as we could hope for. But it has been obvious to many of us for a decade that this was what was going to happen.

        While any criticism might automatically be translated as hatred, I don’t really think so. I alsways encouraged questioning from those who worked for me. I hate mistakes enough to want to hear where I might be making one.

        And my not liking the concept of holding what will probably become a local Hamfest in a cattle barn should not be construed as hatred either. I just don’t like the idea. If Dayton becomes Timonium II, well, I’m not going to drive 10 hours to get there. I’m not going to spend a thousand plus dollars for food and lodging and more on equipment. I wonder if people are going to fly in from around the world for that experience as well? There is a lot more to Hamvention than just the Hams – there is the money spent by the people and vendors that go there, which halps the local economy.

        And yes, I prefer things a little upscale, which may or may not be what some others want. But I don’t think that wanting clean facilities is the mark of elitism.

      2. Sorry if I made it sound elitist to want an upscale, nice facility. I understand that there are many who would be willing to fly across the country, rent a car, stay in a nice hotel and attend a professional trade show.

        But I suspect that number is much smaller than those who would not. Hamvention has to try to make everyone happy AND appeal to both groups.

        Tough job. And the state of Hara had become talked about almost as much as the show. So now they move and in choosing a fairground as their new home they send a clear message — the event is more hamfest than convention.

        We’re going to find out how that works out soon enough.

        73, Jeff

      3. More Hamfest than convention – on that we agree. I’m just not going to spend that much time and money to go to that. I wish them luck.

        Oh well, making Hamcation my main place does give me an excuse to go to Florida every winter for a while.

    2. I attend the World Science Fiction convention (Worldcon) most years, and their convention model works wonders. Local organizations bid for the right to host a Worldcon several years in advance. If there are competing bids they throw lavish parties leading up to the vote to garner support. The vote is held two years in advance and the show goes off without a hitch. This is a mostly volunteer setup, with a permanent floating Worldcon committee that handles the flow from one city/nation to another, but its up to the local organization to arrange hotels, space in the convention center, do up program guides, arrange for guests and speakers, supply on-site volunteers and so on. It works remarkably well. Within the last decade it’s been held in LA, Japan, Denver, Montreal, Melbourne Australia, Reno, Chicago, San Antonio, London England, Spokane, this year in Kansas City, and next year in Helsinki, Finland.

      This model COULD work for Hamvention in exactly the same fashion. DARA runs the floating committee and oversees the operation on a large scale, while local clubs put on the show with a 2 or 3 year lead. The bid parties would be half the fun!

  9. So many people like to suggest that Hamvention should move to another part of the country. Obviously that is a pretty dumb idea given that Hmavention is the baby of the DAYTON amateur radio club. At least one commentor here even recognized this and suggested that DARA sell the rights to the Hamvention name. What?!? Sell something that has provided them with income for the past 50 years for a one-time fee? That has to be a joke!

    Anyway.. I would like to suggest that maybe the location is a big part of why Hamvention is so big. No, I don’t mean Hara, nor do I mean the city of Dayton. But.. Hamvention is right in the middle of the northern half of the US’s midwest. There are a lot of hams here but 362 days of the year practically nothing for us! Honestly, if your interests/hobbies involve anything that doesn’t come from a restaruant, drug store or auto parts store you are out of luck. The northern midwest is basically a dry, life sucking desert for us. Is it any wonder that we will brave the ruins of Hara arena to make it to our one little oasis?

    1. I suppose that if all you want are hams from Ohio, it should do. But I wonder – the Hams that used to fly in from all over the world those of us that spend a whole day driving- do you figure they are going to come to the county livestock fair atmosphere that is the new Dayton Hamvention? Unfortunately, the venue is going to be identical to the hamfests all over the US that are dying.

      Even without, this is probably going to leave a vacuum to fill. I suspect within a year or two, there will be a new biggest Ham radio convention. I might be a dummy, but I spend a lot of money. It will be what it will be, and I’d be happy to be wrong.

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