Greene County officials and residents are bracing for the impact today of the nearly 30,000 people expected in Xenia for Hamvention’s first gathering in the county.
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The three-day amateur radio convention moved to the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia from Trotwood’s Hara Arena after the venue closed in 2016.
Hamvention is projected to provide a $14 million economic boost to the region, but the size of the crowd and the traffic that comes with it is expected to create some challenges.
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“For everybody that’s used to going through traffic lights, don’t anticipate them running normally because we’ll be hand controlling the lights,” Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said.
About 30,000 people from all over the world are expected to visit the Greene County Fairgrounds, starting today. They’ll all be descending upon a city whose last census update showed about 26,000 residents.
Traffic will be directed in different areas starting at 6 a.m. today at Dayton-Xenia and Trebein Roads, Fairground and Hawkins Roads, Fairground Road and Purcell Avenue and along U.S. 35.
Major Rick Bowman of the Greene County Sheriff’s Department said residents have been receiving “hyper reach phone calls” to alert them of traffic changes and what to expect.
He said peak traffic hours will be from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. as people make their way to the fairgrounds, and from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. as they leave.
The event will from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today with the opening ceremony at 11 a.m. Hours continue 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.
RELATED: Hara Arena closing forces Hamvention to find new home
“We’re extremely excited that Hamvention is coming to the Xenia area. We know that it will expose thousands of visitors to our beautiful city and to the county overall,” said Lee Warren, public relations coordinator for the city of Xenia.
Even with the preparation dedicated to the weekend, Warren said they don’t know what to expect “until they happen.”
The temporary increase in population has caused some schedule changes or cancellations.
Xenia City Schools is closed today to allow students “the opportunity to take advantage of all of the sessions associated with this program. We also anticipate a large number of people from outside the city coming to Xenia for the convention.”
The May meeting of School to Adult Life Transition (S.A.L.T.) scheduled for Thursday night was canceled in anticipation of Hamvention. The meeting location is directly across from the Fairgrounds.
Also, Greene County Parks and Trails advised trail users to avoid traveling through the Fairgrounds Recreation Center over the weekend.
Trail users are being advised to avoid the spur that connects Creekside Trail and Little Miami Scenic Trail because of the increased traffic and the recreation center being used for convention parking.
Warren said even with the bustle of getting the city ready for Hamvention, the city is ready to “welcome more visitors than the city has ever seen.”
Fischer said he expects things to be different, but “in a good way.”
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