XENIA — The Greene County Fairgrounds is known to many as the home of the Greene County Fair.
Pigs and lambs in animal barns, sewing and woodworking projects in the Assembly Hall, rides and games and corn dogs in late summer heat — those scenes and smells belong to the fair. But, the fairgrounds is taking on a new identity this weekend: the home of Hamvention.
That means typical fair scenes and fair-goers are being replaced by 30,000 “hams” and their amateur radio equipment.
“We’ve been excited from the very beginning,” Greene County Fairgrounds Secretary Esther Pierson said. “Everybody is working together and it is just awesome. This is an awesome thing that’s happening here.”
According to Pierson, Hamvention is the biggest event that the fairgrounds has ever hosted, and that this won’t be the only year it will make the fairgrounds its home.
Hamvention officials have already signed a three-year contract with the fairgrounds, which Jim Simpson from Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA), the sponsor for Hamvention every year, also confirmed.
“Hamvention was at Hara Arena for 52 years … we’re shooting for 52 years, as well!” Pierson said.
The fairgrounds will benefit greatly from Hamvention coming to their facility, according to County Administrator Brandon Huddleson. He said the fairgrounds will be selling beer and water, and that they’ll get some revenue from food sales.
Of the 1000-plus vendors that will be at the event, many are county vendors that are at the fair every year, Pierson mentioned.
“I thought it was only right that our Greene County people were included before anybody else,” she said.
Pierson, Simpson and Huddleson agreed that Hamvention’s relocation to the fairgrounds will have lasting effects.
“The fact that Hamvention is investing in considerable data network infrastructure at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center really cements the future of the event. The added benefit is the facility is now better positioned to host other events with significant data needs,” Huddleson said.
After suffering from low revenues and high expenses in the past, he continued, the facility will now be able to offer more services for other events.
Reportedly, DARA has already invested $60,000 in upgrades to the fairgrounds.
“They [the fairgrounds] have become a viable alternative for all events that once were held at Hara Arena,” Huddleson said. “Now that Hamvention has come, some of those other events are saying ‘Hey, if they can have their event there, maybe we could, too’.”
Pierson said that the facility also becomes more attractive to outside events because with the animal pens down, the barns have huge open spaces.
Preparing the fairgrounds for the event included removing the animal pens, along with some painting and “sprucing up,” Pierson said. But, after that, Hamvention workers and volunteers took over.
Overall, many individuals involved report that it’s been a group effort from the beginning.
“Our expectations have been far exceeded with the way the community has accepted this, the way people have come in to look over our fairgrounds, how everybody is working together,” Pierson said.
Hamvention will last all weekend, Friday-Sunday, May 19-21, showcasing the latest in amateur radio equipment, technology, computer software and hardware.
Reach Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.