Dayton Hamvention will bring 30,000 people to Xenia this weekend

Gathering of amateur radio (ham radio) operators returns after two-year COVID shutdown

The Dayton Hamvention — considered the world’s largest gathering of amateur radio operators — returns this weekend to the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center after a two-year hiatus.

Well over 30,000 people are expected to converge on Xenia this weekend, as ticket sales are through the roof, and exhibit slots are nearly sold out, according to Hamvention General Chairman Rick Allnutt. Previous years have hosted nearly 2,000 exhibit spaces, and more than 450 vendors had already claimed over 85 percent of the flea market spots, the National Association for Amateur Radio reported last week.

“We’re really looking forward to hosting everyone being back together again,” Allnutt said. “All the major manufacturers are here; it’s really fun to see all of it coming together.”

The three-day event draws people from across the country, Canada, Mexico and around the world. The event was cancelled in 2020 and in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The event runs this weekend, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

Sponsored by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, Hamvention drives an estimated $33 million in economic impact in the region, according to the Greene County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Radio enthusiasts gather to mingle with likeminded folks, attend forums, view exhibitions and peruse the wares of indoor and outdoor flea market vendors, which offer a massive assortment of antique radios.

“It’s the biggest in the world,” Allnutt said. “There are investments made by a whole lot of people who bring their equipment here, bring their stores here, and travel from all over the world to be able to showcase all of everything.”

The theme of the 2022 Hamvention is “reunion,” Allnutt said, as the event brings radio enthusiasts from around the globe back in person, and also marks Hamvention’s 70th anniversary. Started on March 22, 1952, at the Biltmore Hotel in Dayton, Hamvention called Hara Arena home from the mid-1960s until it moved to the Greene County Fairgrounds in 2018.

Amateur radio, or ham radio, enthusiasts, use the technology to talk to each other across town, around the world, or even into space. Ham radio operators have played a vital role during emergencies, severe weather and natural disasters, when traditional communications are not available. Today, there are more than 700,000 amateur radio licenses in the U.S. and roughly 2 million worldwide.

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