Three years after moving from the now-closed Hara Arena, Dayton Hamvention is committing to a long-term relationship to keep the annual event at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center.
Officials on Monday announced a five-year contract was signed late last week for the amateur-radio convention to continue being held at the fairgrounds in Xenia.
“The community has been great to work with and five years shows our commitment to them and their commitment to us to continue to make improvements to the facility,” said Jack Gerbs, Hamvention general chairman. “With the investments we’re making, with the investments the community is making to keep us here, there should not be a reason for us to leave.”
The contract keeps Hamvention in Greene County through 2024.
The event brought in more than 32,000 people last spring from every U.S. state and territory as well as 60 countries, according to Hamvention. A previous study conducted when the event was held in Montgomery County estimated its annual economic impact on the region at $15 to $18 million, according to Ron Cramer, president of the Dayton Amateur Radio Association.
“When we left Hara, there were naysayers, of course. We worked through that. We had our issues the first year with the rain, the mud, the wind, but we’ve done some improvements … I think everyone is extremely happy,” Cramer said.
Cramer said this year’s attendance was the largest since moving to Greene County, and other neighboring counties have been interested in booking the event. “We’ve had people come talk to us, Montgomery County, Clark County. The new fairgrounds in Montgomery County are just not big enough yet. Even here, we can always use another building. We are growing. We’re looking to grow even more.”
The Greene County Agricultural Society has invested $60,000 to $100,000 with additional staffing as well as providing Internet access and improving ventilation at the facilities, according to Dan Bullen, president of the county’s agricultural society.
The fair board has hired an expo center manager and the office is getting calls daily from out of state and other parts of Ohio from people inquiring about bringing in an event, Bullen said.
“It’s a game changer for us,” Bullen said of the new agreement. “We can do so many more things. and with the improvements that we’ve done and the improvements they still want, we’ll be able to do more.”
The Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center is focusing on year-round events, and Hamvention is helping to “spotlight the great facility and others are following suit,” said Kathleen Wright, executive director of the Greene County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“I think we all expect for continued growth with this event,” Wright said. “With the addition of approximately 800 rooms (in new hotels), we are able to host more of their attendees … making it more convenient for our guests.”