DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The 2022 Dayton Hamvention, the world’s largest annual amateur radio gathering, is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

The event is scheduled to be held May 20, 21 and 22 at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center.

Since making its debut in 1952, the Hamvention, lovingly known to locals as Hamfest, has been a staple in the community. The last Hamvention in 2019 drew 32,462 attendees to the area from around the country, according to the Greene County Convention & Visitors Bureau. That’s more than double the size of Xenia.

The past two years have been canceled due to COVID concerns, marking the first cancellations in the 68-year history of the event, but the event is finally making its return.

Radio enthusiasts attending the event can check out forums, view exhibitions and browse the wares of indoor and outdoor flea market vendors, according to the Hamvention website.

What is a ham radio?

Amateur radio operators are also known as radio amateurs, or hams. The term “ham” was originally a satirical nickname for amateur radio operators first heard in 1909 by operators in commercial and professional radio communities. The word was embraced by the operators and stuck. However, the term did not gain widespread usage in the United States until around 1920, according to the American Legion.

Why not just use a cell phone?

Ham radios allow people to communicate anywhere without relying on the Internet or a cell phone network. In times of disaster, when regular communications channels fail, hams can swing into action assisting emergency communications efforts and working with public service agencies.

The Amateur Radio Service kept New York City agencies in touch with each other after their command center was destroyed during 9/11. Ham radio also came to the rescue during Hurricane Katrina, where all other communications failed, and the devastating flooding in Colorado in 2013, according to The National Association for Amateur Radio.

Economic impact

In 2019, Hamvention pumped in about $30 million regionally, with $15-19 million of that total coming to Greene County.

“This year, folks are so excited about being back at Hamvention for their 70th anniversary! And we are even more excited to have them back in Greene County,” said Kathleen Wright of the Greene County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“This year’s attendance might be down just a little bit due to not as many international visitors coming in, but we are still expecting around 30,000 attendees with an estimated economic impact of around 33 million dollars to the region. Every hotel is filled. At night they’re going to be hitting the restaurants, they’re going to be gassing up their cars, they’re going to be – the people that are campers – they’re going to be out and about all over Xenia. So it’s going to be a big economic impact.”