2017 Hamvention Report (K0NR)

After missing it for several years, I managed to attend the Dayton Hamvention this year. This is the largest amateur radio event in the world, so definitely an event to attend if you are into ham radio. I had some concern about going the first year in the new Xenia location, but frankly I was never a fan of Hara Arena so I figured I’d give it a try. I met up with best budd Denny (KB9DPF) in Fort Wayne and we drove down Friday night, attending the event on Saturday and Sunday.

KB9DPF and K0NR selfie at Hamvention

The short story is that we had a blast and the new location is an improvement over Hara (which is, of course, an easy compare).

We went early on Saturday morning, arriving at the fairgrounds around 8 AM (for a 9 AM start time). No traffic issues, easy access to parking. On Sunday we left a little later, arrived at 8:30 AM, again no traffic issues. (I suspect the traffic problems we’ve heard about were associated with arriving from the west, coming from Dayton. Also, that problem seemed to be mostly on Friday morning.)

Positives:

  • Most of the buildings were in good shape [insert disparaging comment about Hara].
  • Most of the buildings are not air conditioned but it seemed to be comfortable enough.
  • The usual vendors were there…I couldn’t think of any didn’t show.
  • The food selection was very good…basically “county fair style” vendors. For example, I had Louisiana style chicken, red beans and rice for lunch on Saturday.
  • The forum rooms were pretty decent, as in large and convenient  [insert disparaging comment about Hara]
  • I attended a few forums (all good): contesting, AMSAT, NPOTA
  • Parking was convenient and no charge.

Negatives:

  • The flea market was a muddy mess, so we skipped that completely. Those that went out there came back with shoes covered with mud. (I saw one guy that came prepared with 18-inch high rubber boots. Smart move.) I’ve seen lots of comments on the web about “well, you can’t control the weather so you just have to deal with the mud.” Yes, you can’t control the weather but even Hara had a paved parking lot for the flea market. Read: no mud.
  • All of the food vendors were outside and there was little to no sheltered seating. If the rain had hit around lunch time, I am not sure where people would have eaten.

All in all, not too bad.

I’m sure they’ll be getting lots of feedback and will be working on the problem areas. I think you have to accept the fact that on a weekend in May in Ohio, you will get some rain. So something has to be done about the flea market, else its mud city most years.

Seriously, I think the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) pulled off a minor miracle getting Hamvention moved to a new location without a major problem. They had a well-oiled machine that knew how to make it happen at Hara but everything had to be reworked this year.

People often ask “well, why do they even hold such a major event in Dayton?”
The answer: because that’s where DARA is.

73, Bob K0NR

12 Replies to “2017 Hamvention Report (K0NR)”

  1. DARA did pull off a great event this year and all the stress and hard work did pay off. I loved the food vendors and the 807 tent. However, the 6000 vendor area is not fair to the vendors or the public. I hope it improves for next year. Forums were great and the attendees gave off a great vibe. I had a great chance to meet various hams for eyeball QSOs and meet the HamRadio360 team. Biggest mistake was attending the mud pit after 230pm on Saturday while checking into the Cold War net on 51.1 and slopping around in it like a pig and realizing anything worth buying was sold on friday. I didnt see any SOTA table?

    • I’m not sure what you mean by the 6000 vendor area not being fair. Can you elaborate?

      No, I did not see a SOTA booth either. Nor any forum on the topic.

      • The 6000 area was a bunch of circus tents that didn’t really provide much when it rained and they had inches of water on the floor affecting power and boxes on the floor. The hot muggy weather really made it unbearable and the lighting was kind of dark in some areas

        There should be a better way!

  2. Pingback: 2017 Hamvention Report (K0NR) | Big Island ARRL News

  3. As I was not there, I can only comment on what several friends that were there said:
    One thing that Hara Arena did was control automobile traffic during the event – no traffic during the event, period!. I heard that part of the problem during this year’s event that auto traffic was continuous during the event that continuously tore up the field and contributed to a muddy mess!

    I heard that only certain vendors were allowed to provide food making food very expensive and very few providing it.

  4. Rain had been a problem with Dayton, the reason for moving into late May, Dayton use to be in April. but still it rains in May in Ohio, but not as much.

    Have not heard much about the gear in the flea market area. Most are saying they spent little, mostly on food, talk about the rain and mud, how bad the bath rooms were. Hams want to know about the Ham gear. I use to go to Dayton for the flea market, what was inside could be found on line although most often Dayton was for new products and good deals on new gear, but the flea market was what Dayton was really about for me. We would have stories of what we saw.
    Does look like the new location is good, newer and cleaner except for the mud. So I am sure next year will be better. And 6000 flea market spaces??? Use to have like 2100 at Hara.

  5. My bud and I were there for all three days and had a great time. Talked with several other hams who voiced the same thing we were thinking, “Sure not many Show Specials here”. Seriously, I wish the organizers would put some wording in the flyer concerning stopping in the aisles to chat with friends and blocking traffic. A little courtesy goes a long way at a show like Hamvention.

  6. After hearing from DARA (year after year) that Hamvention would continue being held at Hara until the great pyramids in Egypt were dust (regardless of the overflowing toilets, traffic issues, and the occasional swap meet stumbles due to large broken pieces of payment), it is obvious that someone within DARA had to be planning for this move for some time.

    Certainly the new location is an overall upgrade from Hara, but with all of the commercial and college locations in and around Dayton, it’s a shame that no location could have been found that allowed the largest show in ham radio to be inside one building (at least for the vendors), and for that building to have air conditioning (along with a large paved parking lot for the swapmeet crowd).

    Still, as K0NR points out, nearly any location would be an upgrade from Hara. I would like to see DARA stop telling the building vendor that they plan on being there for decades, as that completely eliminates any incentive the vendor might have in providing continuing upgrades or improvements to the location in the future.

  7. We (DZKit) skipped it this year because of the lack of useful and timely communication to previous vendors, no suggestions as to what building might be used for what, lack of a web reservation system, tickets that had to be picked up on site (which at Hara resulted in absurdly long lines and delays), and just general lateness of everything. It saved us $4K to skip it. We did have one of our good customers talk about the new Sienna XL and its new 250W 160-6 built-in amp, and that went well. Overall, it was a relief to skip all the usual trade show prep, setup, teardown, travel time to and from Colorado, and general bedlam that we have to endure for a week, all for the one week bump in web hits and a little press in QST and CQ that fades rapidly. Hamvention is mostly about connecting with old friends and we did miss that. Maybe next year.

    • Oh, I just remembered one usual vendor that didn’t attend: DZKit
      (Sorry, Brian.)

  8. We (DZKit) skipped it this year because of the lack of useful and timely communication to previous vendors, no suggestions as to what building might be used for what, lack of a web reservation system, tickets that had to be picked up on site (which at Hara resulted in absurdly long lines and delays), and just general lateness of everything.

    +++

    DZKit’s issues were a common complaint among several vendors that we talked to.

    One of the main issues that hamfests have with vendor relationships (and Dayton is no exception), is that many (most?) of the hamfest committee members are volunteers with little (to no) experience in dealing with the often unique business related issues the incoming vendors have.

    I’ve attended many hamfests (both as a vendor and as a potential customer for the vendors/swapmeet sellers that were there), and over the years noticed that many garage sales have better/more marketing than many hamfests do.

    Considering we are in a hobby that prides itself on communication, that’s a sad state of affairs. Certainly Dayton doesn’t have a marketing problem (getting people there), but there is really no excuse not having a top quality vendor information packet in place months before the event takes place, returning phone calls to vendors in a timely manner, being able to book a vendor’s location without constantly having them pick a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th location option (and then still not telling them if any of them are even available).

  9. Pingback: Dayton 2017: Meeting more people, food, and an impulse buy - KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog