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Hamvention 2018: International event boosts local economy; precautions in place for weather

Tens of thousands of amateur radio enthusiasts from across the nation and the world will converge on Xenia and the Greene County Fairgrounds this weekend for Dayton Hamvention 2018.

This is the second year for the fairgrounds to be the site of the annual event, which opens Friday morning and runs through Sunday.

With an estimated impact to the local economy of $19 million, about 30,000 people attended the event last year. More people, and a bigger economic impact, are expected this year, according to Ron Cramer, Dayton Hamvention chairman.

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“It is the largest show for amateur radio operators in the world,” said Cramer, whose amateur radio call sign is KD8ENJ. “We have a lot of international people coming here … from every continent and most every country that you can imagine.”

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Hamvention gates open

Amateur radio can be a vital communication tool in the event of a natural disaster. Operators proved to be invaluable in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, where the American Radio Relay League sent 50 operators to assist, Cramer said.

“Our theme this year is based upon working within the community … because of all the natural events that were taking place,” Cramer said. “When you have any type of terrible thing going on, cell phones go down, all communication goes down, and radio is one way of making sure that communication gets taken care of.”

The weather forecast is calling for temperatures in the 70s with passing storms Friday and Saturday; temperatures will be in the 80s with storms possible again late Sunday afternoon and evening.

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Last year, the event was hit hard by high winds, which knocked over tents, and heavy rains, which caused the flea market area to become “a mud pit,” as Sheriff Gene Fischer recalled.

Precautions were made this year, with asphalt millings from road work being spread to create walkways through the infield of the racetrack, where the flea market vendors will be set up.

“The city of Xenia, Greene County and the state of Ohio have been moving these road grindings here … This is a big win to get this done in time for Hamvention,” Fischer said.

Xenia spokesman Lee Warren said the millings used at Hamvention have been stockpiled for many years at the Xenia Service Center.

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Cramer said stronger “frame tents” will be in place this year to withstand any high winds that may blow through.

Tickets can be purchased at-the-door for $27, and $22 ahead of Friday. Tickets are available at the fairgrounds, at various retailers and organizations or online until midnight Thursday. For more information, visit hamvention.org or call (937) 276-6930.

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