A Unique View of Dayton Hamvention®

Dayton Hamvention street banner with rainbow in background

Author’s Note: The article below represents the author’s views alone. In no way do they represent the thoughts or experiences of other individuals or represent the views of the executive committee of Hamvention.

First, I am a local. Not local like I can drive to Hamvention and be there in an hour or so, but local like I have lived in Xenia for 20 years. The excitement I felt upon learning Hamvention was moving to the Greene County Fairgrounds was like no other feeling. My kids went to school literally next door to the fairgrounds! The preparations that the fairgrounds and the city itself go through, weeks before the event, are fun to watch. I have a sense of pride knowing that I am so strongly involved in the event.

And, for the fraction of hams who continue to say that it isn’t in Dayton so it should be renamed the “Xenia Hamvention,” Hamvention hasn’t been in Dayton proper since 1963. Hara Arena was in a suburb called Trotwood. “Dayton” was the original concept and also the trademarked name. Some consider it the “Mecca” of amateur radio.

View of street at Dayton Hamvention and fairgrounds

Hundreds of volunteers come together to make Hamvention happen. Committee chairs and their assistants start monthly meetings and actions as early as September of the prior year. As volunteers, committee chairs like myself begin a very long preparation to make the show as awesome as possible. Part of this process is recruiting other volunteers for our committees.

As the event nears, setup begins at the start of the week, culminating with the opening on Friday morning. The people who stay on site will move into the campgrounds early to get started. The fairgrounds are mostly empty, but signs of life keep appearing to announce the “Big Show” is getting closer. Over 700 volunteers have come together to make this gathering what it has become.

Volunteers at Dayton Hamvention

Finally, after all the hours of preparation, it is time. The show is about to open. Some of us have been up since 4 a.m. in order to do our jobs. My Talk-In Committee members are on the air at 5 a.m. to direct people into the show. I am grateful to my volunteers and my assistant for being there that early. I need a couple more hours of sleep!

All you wonderful hams start lining up outside the gate two and a half hours early! Every year I am more and more astounded at the line waiting patiently for the gates to open. I usually have lots of pictures and video as I do the social media postings, in addition to my Talk-In duties.

Then the gates open…expectations are high and rolling with excitement!

Volunteers handing out t-shirts at Dayton Hamvention

Another part of Hamvention that is near and dear to my heart is the event’s official T-shirt. The Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) allows the local club, XWARN (Xenia Weather Amateur Radio Net), to develop and produce the official Hamvention T-shirts and sweatshirts. I am the president of XWARN and enjoy seeing people all around the country in the shirts that my club put together. Pictured above are the XWARN secretary, KE8LPK, and the treasurer, N8IRL, working diligently to sell these shirts to everyone who wants one.

Dayton Hamvention information center.

As we are about to start a new year of planning for Hamvention, my excitement builds. What will be this coming year’s theme? How will we apply it to the T-shirt? Who will travel the farthest to reach this ham radio Mecca?


Questions? Share them in the comments below or email me at

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