XENIA — The combined population of Xenia Township and the City of Xenia is expected to double next weekend when “hams” from around the globe flock to the fairgrounds for the world’s largest amateur radio gathering: Hamvention.
For the last 52 years, the convention has been held at Trotwood’s Hara Arena. But for the first time, during the weekend of Friday-Sunday, May 19-21, Hamvention will be held at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Exposition Center, a 38-acre complex located at 120 Fairground Road.
Hamvention, sponsored by Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA), attracts amateur radio operators from all 50 states and more than 50 countries for a weekend each spring to gather together for all things amateur radio related.
Amateur “ham” radio operators, sometimes called “hams” for short, use equipment to engage in personal communications with other amateur operators on radio frequencies.
According to Jim Simpson, DARA trustee, hams engage in this type of communication for general entertainment, but also take seriously the ability to communicate during public safety emergencies.
Simpson said 27,000 attended last year, but this year is expected to have the biggest turn-out since before 1996, when numbers peaked at 34,000. Other Hamvention organizers also agree that attendance numbers could exceed 30,000, maybe even 35,000.
Tickets are still available and can be purchased on Hamvention’s website, www.hamvention.org, for $22 or at the gate for $27. One ticket acts as a pass for the whole weekend.
First-time Hamvention-goers can expect a weekend packed full of events like educational forums, demonstrations, exhibits and banquets — even a balloon launch, discounted radio equipment sales, awards and prizes — more than 1,000 vendors selling their goods and more than 650 volunteers putting on the show.
“People can make the weekend whatever they want it to be,” Simpson said, adding that some people come for a day and some for all three.
A full schedule of events, forums listings and maps can be found on Hamvention’s website.
Reportedly, all hotel rooms in Greene County are completely full, with visitors filling up surrounding counties’ hotels, too.
For an unofficial list of hotels and motels, Kathleen Wright, executive director of Greene County Convention and Visitors Bureau, directs visitors to the bureau’s hotel page, which can be found at www.greenecountyohio.org. All visitors must contact hotels directly for availability and reservations. For more assistance call 937-429-9100 or email [email protected]
All 96 on-site camping spots, managed by the fairgrounds’ office, are full. No tent camping is permitted and no overnight camping is permitted in the flea market. Additional Greene County camping information is available at the bureau’s website.
For other Dayton area hotels, visit the Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau website’s hotel page at www.daytoncvb.com. For more assistance call 937-226-8211 or toll free 800-221-8235.
According to Wright, new signage on US Route 35 and other major roads will direct attendees to the fairgrounds.
Some parking spaces will be available at the fairgrounds, expected to be open by 7 a.m. But, Wright said, in an effort to keep congestion and traffic down, attendees are encouraged to park and ride free shuttles from out-lots.
According to Simpson, some out-lots available for use will include Xenia High School, the former Eastgate Ford parking area off US Route 35 in Beavercreek and Young’s Jersey Dairy.
A special ADA/handicapped parking lot will be available at the fairgrounds for a limited number of vehicles with official state-issued hanger or vehicle tags. Find the ADA parking lot map and directions on Hamvention’s web page. Electric scooters or wheelchairs are available through reservations with more information on the web page.
Simpson advises travelers to check live updates, like full lots, by contacting Hamvention Talk-In on their VHF Analog radios — 146.94 two way and 145.545 for bulletins.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to get their first license or upgrade to a new license class while at Hamvention. Free license exams will be given across the street at Memorial United Presbyterian Church, 343 West Ankeney Mill Road.
An easy way to learn material before taking these exams will also be provided in the form of a class. The class will be held Saturday, May 20, at the fairgrounds. Pre-registration is required, as seating is limited, and can be done by visiting www.hamclass.net. Contact the instructor directly at [email protected] or call 800-639-1766.
Hams, travelers and Greene County residents can find all additional Hamvention information on the official web page.
Reach Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.