Hamvention: The Wrap

Launch your own ham radio convention in one of those wonderful places with first-class amenities and make it the largest such event in the USA — and I’ll be right there to congratulate your accomplishment.

It’s been a week since news broke that Hara Arena was closing, and only five days since a new site for the event was announced. It seems longer than that. I didn’t intend for this story to dominate the entire week on the blog, but things spun up rather quickly.

Over five-thousand views of the Fairgrounds post tells me that folks are passionate about Hamvention. It doesn’t hurt that the post was linked in the ARRL Letter, but I think it’s mostly the event, and the intense interest it attracts.

Just a few final thoughts to wrap this up and move on.

There have been plenty of boo-birds chiming in with gloom and doom predictions about the move. I think it’s important to keep in mind that this was forced, it wasn’t optional. A better argument could be made that DARA should have fled Hara Arena a decade ago but didn’t. But with that decision having been made for them, they were forced into contingency mode.

I happen to think they made a solid decision in selecting the new site, others disagree. We’re going to find out next May who was right and who was wrong.


That’s not to say 25,000 need show-up for Hamvention 2017 to be a triumph, but it will be the primary metric for measuring success. 20,000 could attend and absolutely love the new venue and the headline would still be that the event is “doomed”.

Sorry to have to say it again, but I’m stunned by the general lack of understanding of what it takes to run Hamvention. Those who continue to opine that the event should move to “Las Vegas” or some other region of the country are simply clueless about how this all works, yet these seem the most vocal of the boo-birds.

In order for Hamvention to really succeed at the Greene County Fairgrounds, organizers are going to have to think outside the box and reset the show in an entirely new configuration. New activities will need to be added, and a few things may need to be left out. A lot will have to be altered.

Not everyone will be happy but ‘everyone’ has never been happy with Hamvention. It’s a challenge, mostly because they haven’t had to tweak the formula much for decades.

But DARA has a proven track record in pulling off the big event. They’ve actually done it. It’s not a hypothetical conversation in a pub. They turned it into the largest, most successful ham radio event in the United States. No other convention or hamfest comes close to its size in attendance or dollars generated.

And they’ve done it over the last ten years in sub-standard facilities.

So again, my challenge to those who want the event moved out of the region — launch your own ham radio convention in one of those wonderful places with first-class amenities and make it the largest such event in the USA — and I’ll be right there to congratulate your accomplishment.

Until then, just keep blowing smoke and leave the job to the professional amateurs in Dayton.

Author: Jeff Davis


4 thoughts on “Hamvention: The Wrap”

  1. I couldn’t agree more Jeff. I think DARA is on top of this and we should trust their judgement. The interview with the DARA folks on the latest Ham Nation is a good one and may alleviate some of the concerns that some people have. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_OaKmllEDY. Let’s let the DARA people do what they do best, manage the largest Ham event in the world.


  2. I wish DARA only the best of luck. The time for opposing opinions has come and gone, and it is time to allow them to rise or fall on their own merits. However, I’m not so certain that “Boo-Birds” is the best way to characterize people that may have spent tens of thousands of dollars of their own money, and find their opinions marginalized as playground taunts. But so be it. I’ve had my say, and will vote with my wallet in the future, not my voice or posting. – 73 –

  3. My concern was that the crowd would be too large for the new facility until I saw the numbers for the fair this week. DARA didn’t get here without some outstanding minds at the helm and I’m sure they’ll make this Hamvention the best one yet. As always, I’ll be parked in row 1🙂

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