There’s been a festering, ongoing social media battle over Hamvention, its new venue, the fairground in Xenia, and the old Hara arena. It seems this has bubbled up to the surface again with the recent tornado disaster in Trotwood which severely damaged homes and the venerable, but severely dilapidated Hara Arena.
I won’t dispute that Hara was a dump. It was a major dump. It was abused over the years and its long tenuous financial history is available for anyone who wants to find it on the interwebs. Despite being a dump, Hara was an ideal venue for the Hamvention. Hamvention started there, grew with Hara even through its physical decline, and the legendary event arguably was molded and enabled by the capabilities the site offered. Hara may be rebuilt and Hamvention may or may not return to Hara, but I’m not going to bet on it or even entertain the thought.
What bothers me is that some dismiss any commentary or criticism of the Xenia location as merely Hara Arena fanatics sore over the loss of Hara, or simply as complainers. That’s not the case. I’ll acknowledge that Xenia was likely the best choice out of a few choices at the time, but it’s just not well suited long term for the Hamvention. There’s a lack of major highways and hotels nearby. The mud pit parking has become legendary. The buildings are more suited to host livestock than technology. The flea market is in the grassy track center, because, well, there’s no where else to put it. And last, the venue doesn’t feel like the largest amateur radio gathering in the western hemisphere. It feels like a county fair with amateur radio.
It’s not realistic to think Hamvention will return to Hara anytime soon. I think what many of us would like to see is a realization that Xenia isn’t an ideal location, and it has changed the character of the event. Xenia was a prudent, stopgap measure taken under difficult circumstances. Now that the immediate threat to the future of the event has passed, the Hamvention powers that be should seek a better venue for Hamvention and not settle for Xenia.
This article originally appeared on Radio Artisan.