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T-minus 1 Day Until Dayton Hamvention – May 18, 2023


by Mark H. Derks, KC1RVQ, ARRL Acquisitions Editor

The day before Dayton Hamvention® 2023, and already antennas porcupine cars at the University of Dayton Marriott. Cardstock “No Parking” signs issued by the Xenia, Ohio, police department top blonde stakes on the approach to the vendor parking at the Greene County Fairgrounds, a signal about the number of ham radio operators about to descend.

The annual Hamvention runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, May 19 – 21. All throughout the Dayton metro area is the buzz of anticipation as hotels, restaurants, and stores, prepare for thousands to arrive.

On Thursday, our team of ARRL staff have arrived early for setup. At the fairground gate, a young man sprawls in a golf cart, staring at his phone. He spots the red vendor tag dangling from our vehicle’s rearview mirror and waves us in. RVs and campers form rows beside the entrance. A vehicle near the front sports an automatic, retractable mast, half extended so it zigzags into the sky.

We pull up behind Building 2, Tesla, and debark into a beautiful mid-May afternoon. The temperature’s tilting toward summer but hasn’t quite put on its heat yet. Hardly a cloud spots the sky. Vendors in blue jeans and t-shirts scuff in and out of the building through double-wide doors.

Inside, Tesla hums. More than a dozen ARRL staff and member-volunteers are unpacking boxes of books, mugs, apparel, handouts, signs, and what seems like a hundred other things that will make up the large ARRL Expo space -- homebase for ARRL’s participation at Hamvention. A quick tour illustrates the variety of expertise and volunteer spirit that are sure to make Hamvention a success. ARRL RFI Engineer Steve Anderson, W1EMI, plugs a handheld into the test equipment at the ARRL Laboratory booth, preparing for the attendees he’ll serve when the show opens at 9 AM on Friday. Director of Marketing and Innovation Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, scribbles lunch orders on a hunk of cardboard. Assistant Member Services Manager Kim McNeil, KM1IPA, and Retail Sales and Marketing Assistant Manager Jackie Ferreira, KB1PWB, arrange books and place signs. Someone irons the packing wrinkles from t-shirts and an American flag.

And then everything stops. People working in the booth put down their wares and circle around a duck in a wagon. ARRL member Junie Cassone, N1DUC, has arrived with Mochi the duck. She makes introductions, and a few bold folks gently stroke Mochi’s back. A companion of Junie’s offers Mochi water from a Styrofoam cup. Mochi laps a few drops and tilts up his bill to swallow. Sure, Hamvention includes a rich program of forums and great exhibits -- but also a lot fun and unexpected surprises.

The sound of an electronic keyer bursts over the little gathering. People laugh and disperse. There’s still much to do to prepare for tomorrow’s crowds. At booths all around, tablecloths spread, and vendors toss jokes between them. Familiar faces come and go.

There’s little time and much to do. Hamvention is tomorrow!

[Follow ARRL’s photo album from 2023 Dayton Hamvention at]




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