The event is expected to draw over 31,000 “hams” to Xenia this year, General Chair Jim Storms said, with estimates from the Greene County Convention and Visitors Bureau reaching 35,000 people over the course of the weekend.
“We’ve got probably about 20,000 today,” Storms said Friday, “Overall about 30,000 or more from all over the world, who are coming to just indulge in amateur radio, buy equipment, talk to friends that they’ve met over the air, and just have a fun time in the hobby.”
Hamvention returned last year after being cancelled for two years due to COVID-19. This year is the first the convention has seen a significant resurgence in advance international ticket sales, which are way up from last year, Storms said.
“This is arguably the largest gathering of Hams in the world,” Storms said. “It’s kind of humbling to think that in Dayton, the world flocked to it for an event that’s very prestigious, and is very well thought of around the world.”
The first Hamvention was founded by Dayton amateur radio enthusiasts in 1952, and moved to the Greene County Fairgrounds in 2017. The amateur radio scene grew in popularity across the country in the aftermath of World War II, when excess radio gear from the United States military became available for civilian use, Storms said.
“A bunch of electronic fanatics started grabbing those radios, modifying them so that they could use them on other frequencies, and they just started using them. They invented their own radios and did whatever they wanted,” Storms said.
“Wireless phones, the airwaves for TV and radio, and all that technology have roots in amateur radio,” he added.
Amateur radio operators still provide essential communications today during natural disasters, especially when the power to other means of communications go out.
“With the advance of internet communication, it’s not as prevalent as it once was. But we need to keep it alive because when all those technologies go down, the internet goes down, they still go back to ham radios,” said Greene County Commissioner Rick Perales.