Hamvention: The Fairgrounds

The Greene County Fairgrounds, new home of the Hamvention is a 45 minute drive from where I happen to be working in Cincinnati today. So after work I ran up the road to tour the facilities. As it turns out, the annual county fair is going on this week and it cost me six bucks to take the grand tour — and four dollars more for a corndog.

Given the broiling heat (96F) and my lack of interest in riding the zipper or tilt-a-whirl, I spent exactly one hour walking the grounds, snapping photos, and trying to imagine how this space is going to be best used.

First and foremost, if you had worries about parking space, relax. It’s on grass but that’s no different than the big lot across the road from Hara where thousands of us have trudged back and forth for decades. And there are seemingly endless acres of it. We won’t runout of parking space. Besides, on-site parking could be a bonus since there are no 3rd-parties renting their land for parking — maybe Hamvention will offer parking free for attendees?

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There is a reasonable amount of parking available inside the gates near the buildings. I assume this will be mostly reserved for vendor and handicap parking. There is a paved circular drive near the entrance, perhaps suitable for pick-up and drop-offs but it could create long queues.

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Inside there is a relatively large midway with a paved road around it. Since the fair was going on, you can see how these vendors lined up and I can imagine a lot of the flea-market taking place around the midway.

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There’s a horse track with a grandstand where Bob Heil or Gordo could coax us into rollicking tunes like ‘Roll Out the Barrel’ after leading us all in a solemn recitation of The Radio Amateurs Code.

Seriously, how about we get the Spurious Emissions Band up there for a few sets?

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There are several buildings, more than just the four that were mentioned by others in previous discussions. Three of the main exhibition buildings are large and roomy. These buildings were not air-conditioned but large wall and ceiling fans kept air moving nicely through the large open doors. We’re going to have to get used to walking between buildings, but it reminds me a lot of the fairgrounds used for the Orlando Hamcation.

There were bathrooms, but I didn’t see enough of them — I surely just missed seeing all of them since the annual fair regularly attracts 80,000 people over four days and that many bladders are bound to spring leaks.

There were a lot of campers and motorhomes setup there, but I have no idea how many of those to expect at Hamvention so it’s hard to say if there will be sufficient space for all who want to camp on site.

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If I had to sum up the site in a single word that would be “rustic”. It’s a county fairground. A place where livestock is shown and judged, bought and sold. And as you might expect, it’s located on the edges of town, a small town at that. 

The large buildings are well-kept with smooth, concrete floors. Parking won’t be a problem. Flea-market vendors are going to be happy, and I think “inside” exhibitors will get happy too — once they figure out a pecking order and where the most advantageous (and expensive) spots will be located.

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My only real concern is the lack of meeting rooms. These are popular, attracting over a hundred people for some of the sessions and at Hara Arena, there were three such rooms in use constantly. And that doesn’t include the testing sessions. I did notice a private school building across the road, perhaps that could be employed for the weekend?

Bottom line, I think this is going to work and probably work well. With a little imagination we’re likely to see creative new ways to conduct a show like Hamvention with large crowds and rave reviews in a new configuration. 

It seems like a great hangout for ham!

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Author: Jeff Davis

 

20 thoughts on “Hamvention: The Fairgrounds”

  1. Thank you for this information. Also for including my biggest concern for the Hamvention – testing session.

  2. The Assembly Hall is carpeted and air conditioned and has side rooms; it would probably be the best suited for meetings.

  3. So where will they hold the judging for the biggest ham at the show? And I’m guessing the auction will follow shortly thereafter.

  4. In the past the RV camping has not been open to everyone, will that change with this venue?

    Phil KB9IAK

  5. There are going to be MASSIVE traffic jams on the road(s) coming from Dayton’s motels into Xenia. There are no places to stay east, south and northeast of Xenia. It’s going to be epic traffic. Think Woodstock.

    1. There are hotels east at US 35 at I-71. It is also possible to route traffic coming into Xenia to the Fairgounds without passing through Xenia.

    2. Plenty of places to stay within a 15 mile radius. 15 mi NE of Xenia is Springfield. Go straight up Hwy 68 to I-70. Hwy 235 out of Xenia leads to Fairborn and more hotels. Beavercreek straight out Fairgrounds road has a host of hotels. There are plenty of places to eat and stay within a reasonable drive from Xenia. Plus there’s a Ramada in Xenia and lots of places to eat in Xenia. This will be a MASSIVE good move!

  6. Tad, thank you for this excellent, high-quality-photo survey of the fairground. You’ve done us all a big favor and given us things to think about. Enjoyed your sense of humor, too😉

  7. Thanks for taking a drive out there! It sounds great to me. I’ve been going to the Hamvention for 36 years and I have full confidence in DARA. These guys are pros and they know what they are doing. Looking forward to Hamvention 2017!

    George
    K2WO

  8. Having just returned from Oshkosh Air Venture, with 860 vendors and 40,000 campers and 560,000 attendees in a town that is home to 65,000 residents. It can be done. Looking forward to it, being my 38th year attending Hamvention. Afterall there were things I forgot to buy last year? Hope everyone comes again!

  9. I hope with a new venue they will be able to bring in some of the bigger vendors that have stayed away from Hara over the last few years because of the decrepit conditions. Maybe the camping area will allow them to also keep out the two day renters that get a fleamarket space just so they can sleep on site and depart Saturday night leaving the areas unfilled. Lets hope Hamvention can return to glory!

  10. This is an awful choice. One of my sons and his family used to live 5 mi from this place. The Nutter Center would have been a much better choice. In Arizona, we had a similar situation 10 years ago when we lost our state convention venue at Ft. Tuthill near Flagstaff, and had to move it 45 mi east to the rodeo grounds in Williams, a small town by comparison. Attendance plummeted from about 6,000 to about 1,000. I urge the committee and DARA to think again, or I won’t be coming back.

    1. Funny. Every time I have made comments about losing attendance at Williams vs Tuthill I have been told I am wrong.

  11. One wonders if the huge Ohio State Fairground in Columbus was investigated. The Dayton volunteers would have to travel but otherwise you have LOTS of hotels and a major airport.

  12. I’d bet that the private school across the way would change their annual fair date if enough rent money was offered.

  13. Instead of complaining about the darkness, perhaps we should light a candle. They’ll get it done. Hams’ improvise, that’s what they do. Any venue is better than no venue. Most of us are in “camping mode” anyway, schlepping backpacks, boxes, whatever. Long live the Dayton Hamvention.

  14. Tilt of the beam to DARA. Am sure they look at all angles of this important relocation. All comments should be taken as constructive. I,too, have been attending Hamvention for 35 years and have faith that the new venue will have a few problems, but will be able to be resolved. FDIM should not be moved, as it has a good venue now.
    Looking forward to seeing reviews as things progress

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