New Hamvention Venue: “You Will Be Very Impressed,” Chairman Assures

Dayton Hamvention® is moving on after 52 years at Hara Arena, and 2017 preparations at the show’s new venue in Xenia, Ohio, now are in full swing, two Hamvention officials explained this week on the Amateur Radio Roundtablewebcast hosted by Tom Medlin, W5KUB. Hamvention announced on August 1 that it would relocate to the Greene County Fairgounds, after Hara Arena made it known that it would close at month’s end. Hamvention 2017 General Chair Ron Cramer, KD8ENJ, and official spokesperson Mike Kalter, W8CI, fielded questions from Medlin and callers during the hour-long August 9 show. Cramer said some members of the Amateur Radio community entertain preconceived notions about the new venue that are “far off base,” and he and Kalter wanted to set the record straight.

“Change is hard for everyone, but I think this is a very good move for us,” Cramer said. “You will be very impressed.” Kalter echoed the sentiment. “We want to start out great and get awesome,” he said. Kalter said there’s been a lot of second-guessing, but that “a lot of overriding factors” and year-long search led to the selection of Greene County Fairgrounds.

Kalter assured those planning to attend Hamvention that Fairgrounds buildings — particularly those used for showing livestock during the county fair — are “absolutely clean” and well maintained (see attached layout map). He and Cramer expressed confidence that everyone will find plenty of available parking and room for all traditional Hamvention activities — more than may be evident at first glance. Vendors who have already visited the new site to get the lay of the land went away “excited,” they said.

At this point, no hard-and-fast decisions have been made as to how Hamvention will put the available buildings and space to use next spring, but Cramer and Kalter said the Fairgrounds staff has been especially helpful. “We’re all working together now to make this happen,” Kalter said, and that Hamvention officials remain open to questions and suggestions.

Cramer took time to quash one misconception about Hara Arena. “Even though they had air conditioning,” he said, “air conditioning was never used there. The doors were open, and they did not want to turn on the air conditioning unless the doors were closed. So, I don’t think air conditioning was used at all — at least in the last 10 years.”

Some air conditioned space already available at the new venue may be suitable for such activities as forums, and the Fairgrounds is looking to upgrade existing ventilation systems in non-air conditioned buildings. “We’re looking at the possibility of air conditioned ‘chalets’” for forums, Kalter said.

The prime area under consideration for the popular outdoor flea market is inside the racetrack oval, they said, and additional adjacent space is available, if it’s needed.

The venue will have wireless Internet coverage. “We’ve already moved some of the equipment out of Hara, and we think it will do a good job there,” Cramer said. Kalter added that the Fairgrounds staff is working on upgrading the Internet “pipe” to the venue.

As for the admission price, “We’re still working on that,” Kalter said. “We have not made a decision. We may leave it at the same price or slightly more than that, but no great increase.” Tickets this year were $20 in advance and $25 at the gate for all 3 days.

Cramer and Kalter said Hamvention anticipates being ready to start selling tickets and vendor spaces by November — and perhaps earlier.

Kalter stressed that the sponsoring Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) puts “an awful lot back into ham radio in donations,” all raised entirely through Hamvention.

“We need your help. We need your support,” Kalter said. “Hamvention needs to move on, and we intend to make it happen, with everybody’s help.