Hamvention Finds a Home

XENIA, OHIO – The Greene County Agricultural Society Board of Directors in partnership with the Greene County Board of Commissioners, the City of Xenia and the Greene County Convention & Visitors Bureau is pleased to announce the Greene County Fair & Exposition Center will be the new home of the Dayton Hamvention®.

We knew that the DARA folks had contingency plans, but that announcement came surprisingly fast. The really big show moves to a county fairgrounds – and exposition center near Xenia, Ohio. It’s a move that keeps Hamvention in the Miami Valley, no doubt a primary goal for the organization.

Scanning details of the fairground Web site, and doing a little back of the napkin calculation, it appears there’s about 100,000 square feet of indoor space spread over several buildings. A satellite view shows what appears to be enough room for the flea market though it’s hard to say how much is enough. The flea-market at Hara has been slowly shrinking for quite some time. Blame it on eBay. Everyone else does.

The Greene County folks pointed out that there are on-site camping facilities with camper hook-ups. That would be a first for Hamvention and certainly a very welcomed feature.

The complex was designed for “fairs, concerts, meetings, convention/trade shows, sporting and livestock events”. Like a lot of early commenters, I have concerns that the 38-acre spread might not be big enough. As noted, the indoor space and flea-market areas look about right to me — but where will we all park?

I plan to drive up there tomorrow evening and have a look around. Get a feel for the place. Take a few photos.

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Conventions vs Hamfests, Expectations

Your expectations for Hamvention will largely determine whether or not you think this location is a wise selection or one made of desperation. A certain segment of the fraternity wants to see Dayton be more like a convention and less like a hamfest.

These want a ham radio show that compares with large conventions in Las Vegas. Ultra-modern indoor facilities with supernatural amounts of air-conditioning and jumbo-trons hanging in every corner. Something akin to the Consumer Electronics Show.

Others are looking for a hamfest, like the four-hour event on a Saturday morning in a National Guard Armory with space for tail-gating outside in the elements — like they are accustomed to attending. At about the same price, only bigger. Much, much bigger.

Dayton Hamvention is an attempt to satisfy a little of both. A nearly impossible task that’s been successful for many decades as it has grown to become the largest such ham radio event in the world. It’s a tough act though because, as noted, the space between hamfests and conventions grows every year.

Visalia, W9DXCC, the AMSAT Space Symposium – these type of ham radio related but very focused events are growing in popularity and are poised to replace conventional hamfests. These are conducted in hotel banquet and meeting rooms where parking or complaints about the restroom facilities are non-existent. This year the AMSAT Symposium will take place on a cruise ship. How do you top that for amenities?

These are smaller events of course, but Hamvention can’t really compete directly with groups who aren’t looking for a flea-market or to see the latest gadgetry from hundreds of on-site vendors. Hamvention can only succeed if enough radio amateurs continue to have an interest in more traditional aspects of the hamfest.

That’s why I say your expectations for Hamvention will be the deciding factor on what you think of this new venue. At least until after the first show is conducted there and we get to see first hand if this is the continuation of Hamvention with a fresh coat of paint, or if it’s the beginning of something else – something much less grandiose.

Look to the East

The new location is a little southeast of Dayton, Ohio and outside of the 675 loop. That side of Dayton has grown nicely over the years. It’s newer. More modern. Visit The Greene sometime and see what I mean. There are nice hotels out along the 675 loop and I wonder if downtown (Dayton) events like those that regularly take place at the Crowne Plaza will shift to the East?

It wouldn’t be practical this year of course, since plans have already been made, but I’m willing to guess that proximity to the event will change a lot about our current approach to Hamvention. I’m also willing to bet that once visitors take a look around the far east side of Dayton, they will like the location a lot better.

The race is probably already on for hotel rooms in that area.

Author: Jeff Davis

 

1 thought on “Hamvention Finds a Home”

  1. Frankly, if the low admission cost is to be maintained, it likely won’t be a Vegas style convention. I’m really glad I had the Hara experience once, but I’m confident Hamvention will ‘roll with the punches’ and evolve with the new venue.

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