XENIA — For many amateur radio operators, Hamvention is a reunion.
It’s where friends meet up for a weekend, or hams run into familiar faces that they see just once a year.
Chuck Hill and Rick Snead are continuing that tradition this year, making the Greene County Fairgrounds their reunion site.
The two Hamvention attendees — plus two more in their group — talk to each other on their radios at night from their homes in North Carolina.
“It’s just for fun,” Hill, who has attended Hamvention for the last 24 years, said. “You come back up here every year and a lot of the people you see you’ve seen at other ham events in other states. And you see people that you haven’t seen in a year but you know because you met them here.”
Hill and Snead recalled friends they had met in years past. One was a man who died recently. He always set up a tent and played music and sang.
“I helped him with his antenna and we were friends ever since,” Hill said.
Another group they met when Hill was a vendor, and their booths were often next to each other.
“We would have a ball,” he said.
Although the hobby may be “just for fun” — the two noted the practical use of radios, particularly during emergencies and bad weather.
“When the hurricane came through in North Carolina, I lost power for four days. My radios never went off,” Snead recalled.
Snead and Hill both got early starts in radios.
Hill, who’s been licensed for 45 years, said he started out with a Citizens Band (CB) radio. Snead said he also used a CB radio when he was 10 or 12, then became a licensed amateur radio operator when he was 15.
The two commented on the relatively-new site for the world’s largest amateur radio operator convention — saying the facilities, vendors and food are better now than in years past.
Other long-time attendees and Hamvention officials agreed the first day of the convention was off to a good start at the fairgrounds.
“[Attendance] looks way up over past years,” Joe Eisenberg (K0NEB) from Nebraska — recognizable by his Dr. Seuss hat — said.
This year marks Eisenberg’s 40th time at the convention. He hosted a kit building forum Friday.
Frank Beafore (WS8B), chairman of the award committee, of Bellbrook, noted the morning crowd was bigger than he’d seen in years.
“The morning line I think took people an hour and a half to get in and there wasn’t a frown on any face,” he said.
And so, it seems the reunions continue and the traditions live on at another year of Hamvention.
“I love it,” Hill said. Then laughing, “I said [to my wife], ‘I’m gonna go for as long as I can breathe’.”