It’s Not About Hara

There’s been a festering, ongoing social media battle over Hamvention, its new venue, the fairground in Xenia, and the old Hara arena.  It seems this has bubbled up to the surface again with the recent tornado disaster in Trotwood which severely damaged homes and the venerable, but severely dilapidated Hara Arena.

I won’t dispute that Hara was a dump.  It was a major dump.  It was abused over the years and its long tenuous financial history is available for anyone who wants to find it on the interwebs.  Despite being a dump, Hara was an ideal venue for the Hamvention.  Hamvention started there, grew with Hara even through its physical decline, and the legendary event arguably was molded and enabled by the capabilities the site offered.  Hara may be rebuilt and Hamvention may or may not return to Hara, but I’m not going to bet on it or even entertain the thought.

What bothers me is that some dismiss any commentary or criticism of the Xenia location as merely Hara Arena fanatics sore over the loss of Hara, or simply as complainers.  That’s not the case.  I’ll acknowledge that Xenia was likely the best choice out of a few choices at the time, but it’s just not well suited long term for the Hamvention.   There’s a lack of major highways and hotels nearby. The mud pit parking has become legendary.  The buildings are more suited to host livestock than technology.  The flea market is in the grassy track center, because, well, there’s no where else to put it.  And last, the venue doesn’t feel like the largest amateur radio gathering in the western hemisphere.  It feels like a county fair with amateur radio.

It’s not realistic to think Hamvention will return to Hara anytime soon.  I think what many of us would like to see is a realization that Xenia isn’t an ideal location, and it has changed the character of the event.  Xenia was a prudent, stopgap measure taken under difficult circumstances.  Now that the immediate threat to the future of the event has passed, the Hamvention powers that be should seek a better venue for Hamvention and not settle for Xenia.

This article originally appeared on Radio Artisan.

Anthony, K3NG, is a regular contributor to

4 Responses to “It’s Not About Hara”

  • Mike Johnson WO9B:

    Nice commentary.

    I think the biggest issue with a non-Daytonish location is that the folks that put in all the hard work, sweat the details 12 months out of the year and who have become experts in putting on a show of this size live in and around Dayton. You tell them to move the show to Cincinnati or Indianapolis. The Dayton area is oddly just north enough, just south enough and just east enough to be available by planes, trains and automobiles to much of the ham radio community but unfortunately does not have a Hara II.

    The other factor is the large number of volunteers that donate their time to the cause. That is time that does not show up on the ticket price.

    Having said that, there are lots of communities that could host a 30K event without batting an eye. If the ticket price could be sustained at $50, they could take Hamvention on the road to a different local every year. Lot’s of communities would be thrilled to provide a bid to host an event like that. I live in Milwaukee and I can tell you the State Fair grounds could do Hamvention with it’s eyes closed…including a paved adjacent flea market. I’d bet there are a ton of communities that can offer up the same facilities…they just are not in and around Dayton.

  • K8MEJ:

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but the amount of time spent reading this post, and the amount of time you spent contemplating this is a sad waste of time. It’s a trade show, not the second coming.

  • Goody K3NG:

    Mike, I didn’t mention it in my commentary, but I agree and acknowledge that keeping Hamvention close to Dayton is naturally a requirement, due to the volunteers and the organization that makes this all happen. That certainly was a factor in choosing Xenia. I do, however, like your idea of taking the Hamvention on the road and having it hosted in various cities. That would add a new dimension to the event, but undoubtedly is an order of magnitude more complicated to organize.

  • Lawrence Stoskopf N0UU:

    I’ve been attending (with one miss) for 40 years. Moving it around will be a PITA for 4DaysInMay, all of the evening splinter activities, etc. The Univ of Dayton dorm deciding not to take lodgers was a major blow to our group of 40, but we survived. The guys sponsoring this I think are somewhat unique and are a treasure. Kansas City for some years had a great little hamfest. When the guy running it called it quits it was gone. Careful tinkering with a success. A but if air conditioning a couple of places might help.

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