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How big was 2019 Hamcation? Reports wanted!

Discussion in 'Hamfest Reports' started by N1VAU, Feb 15, 2019.

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  1. N3IL

    N3IL Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Here's a report from a first timer at Hamcation. Overall impression - a laid back hamfest in the sun (81 on Friday when back home it was in the 20's before windchill). I had a table in the Swaps Building, arrived Thursday for setup. ~1/3rd of the Swaps vendors arrived and setup on Thursday. A variety of tailgaters also were setup on Thursday. Frankly, Thursday is when some of the best deals were to be had. Wx great on Th-F-Sat with rain appearing later in the day Saturday; Sunday, rain. Early Saturday afternoon by 1300 I would say easily 12-18 Swappers and Tailgaters packed up and departed. I reserved my table for next year (primarily to escape the great white north in February of 2020).

    As a reference for my notes and comments below, I attended my first Dayton Hamvention in 1985 as a flea marketeer. Since then 100's of hamfests. Typically sell at 8-to-10 a year.

    Details I noted:

    Swaps Building (indoor flea market):
    • ~300 indoor tables
    • They were not sold out
    • Had ~40 open tables though about half had a name tag
    • Mixture of dealers and individuals
    • It is A/C! and no sun beating on your neck
    • Not a normal hamfest that I am accustomed to. Even at 0900 Friday when open to the public ~1/3rd of the tables were not uncovered. Wasn’t until 1000 that all were open.
    • 2/3rds ham gear, 1/3rd crafts/jewelry/PCs
      • Of the 2/3rds ham related tables, 2/3rds were radios and accessories like tuners, amps, etc. and 1/3rd were parts
    • Vast majority of ham pieces priced at eBay prices.
      • One vendor actually looked up prices on eBay and quoted as his price to a potential customer; “that’s how much they go for on eBay”. I am sure he did not filter on Sold Listings.
    • Between Swaps and Tail Gaters, there were eight people selling “estates”. All stating they needed to maximum the money for the estate/widows (as buyers attempted to make a deal). I have never seen this number of people doing it.
    • Nice clean building
    Commercial Vendors:
    • In two buildings
    • Large building housed the vast majority
    • Icom, Yaseu, Kenwood each had a 10x20 booth
      • Kenwood was just a couple of Pelican style cases on a table
    • Big dealers like HRO, MFJ, Gigaparts setup
    • The Elecrafts of the world also
    • Pretty packed when I went through (main public entrance is via the primary vendor building)
    • Many offering “hamfest specials”
    • ~90% dedicated ham
    Tail Gate area:
    • Spots really scattered across several different areas (there is an east and west area; the west area also had a mixture of RVers with tables)
    • >100 RVs here (everyone was commenting on how many more RVs this year)
    • At 0900 most of Tail Gaters were NOT setup; DHV this is not
    • By 1030 Tail Gaters fully open
    • >3/4 ham; remaining ¼ mix of cheap Chinese products, crafts, etc
    • I estimate ~150 Tail Gate spots were active by mid-morning
    • Other spots roped/taped off with name tags, though not occupied
    • Went from eBay + prices to $1 any item (one vendor had 10 tables of boxes, all items $1, tons of parts)
    • I counted > 60 Collins items, most I ever seen at a single hamfest. Almost all that had prices marked seemed $$$$ to me. Most also had signs that stated do not touch, play with knobs, etc. w/o permission. Several also had signs “serious buyers only” or similar language.
    • Mainly older equipment. I did not see much at all in terms of recent year Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu products
    • ~1/2 appeared to be just 'one-timers' and the other ½ people make the circuit
    • Cannot tell you about quality as the prices kept me away, ate off premises
    • Typical fairground bathrooms with flush facilities
    Hamcation Staff:
    • Friendly, courteous, polite, helpful, even jovial
    • Well organized
    • Laid back somewhat – unlike DHV staff whom are more like Marshalls – you can’t do this; your vehicle is over the line have to move it out; etc. here just don’t want you blocking roads, parking in handicap area
    KA0HCP, K0UO, KC1HLU and 1 other person like this.
  2. N1VAU

    N1VAU XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nice report, thank you!
  3. KA7RRA

    KA7RRA Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    There are 2 big ones on the west coast
    The Mike and Key,in March, and Seapac at Seaside Oregon May 31,June 1 and 2
  4. W8AAZ

    W8AAZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    They think Xenia had higher attendance this year, and the weather being decent probably had alot to do with it. Maybe there seems to be less flea market stuff than Hara, but you have to consider that internet sales might be having an impact on flea markets. I know that people are using the net to sell alot of used gear now, set back and sell at your leasure, no all day marathon of sun rain wind to contend with. And some of the sellers obviously look at internet "asking prices" now when deciding what to put on their tags. I had a good time but strained to carry away a couple of my "prizes" to the car. Ouch. And I got burned. Bought a "working" used modern radio and it is boxed up to be mailed to service today. At least I can work on the 15$ boatanchor I bought, it is not full of microscopic cellphone type parts. "Yea, this is as low as I will go for this, I saw one on ebay(in much better shape!) for 50$ more!" Etc. Yet, plenty of fun bargains to be had and you buy new stuff and at least save shipping if no show discount.
  5. KC2PMM

    KC2PMM Ham Member QRZ Page

    As regards the flea market size at Hamvention, I think everybody ought to consider that the rules have changed for the flea market area. At Greene County Fairgrounds, there is NO overnight camping or sleeping in the flea area, at HARA this was just another side of the event to go and stay right in the flea market area, and party all night so to speak. Can't do that now. Also, if you're not selling, don't bother to buy a spot just to get in a day or two early, which was a common ploy used to get a guaranteed parking spot. People would buy a flea spot just to use it as a parking spot. Can't do that anymore either. The DARA knew the fairgrounds location has space limitations, so they had to do something to make the flea market smaller. These changes were deemed the least painful, it would appear, although it made nearby hotels happy! Also, I don't know that anybody has gone to the flea market map site and looked at the totals over the last few years at HARA vs the first 3 years at the fairgrounds.
    Sorry I was not able to attend this year. Sorry to have sort of hijacked this thread, lol!
    K0UO likes this.
  6. W8AAZ

    W8AAZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    You had to be a pretty rich ham to afford a flea market space for just convenient parking, especially in later years. That would certainly cancel out the value of any so called discounts and bargains you might find. That is like going to an expensive restaurant and buying a dinner and not eating it just to have a place to set down. Heck as it is you gotta have some substantial profit in mind with your stuff to justify the space for selling.
  7. KC2PMM

    KC2PMM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not so! A flea spot is what, $70? Which includes a couple of parking tickets and your flea market vendor pass which gets you into the show for all the days. So, when you could just get a spot, park your truck or van there, and live out of it for 3 or 4 days, that was a sweet deal! My hotel room in Beavercreek was $195 A NIGHT! iirc, because I help out an indoor vendor we get in Wednesday, my hotel bill was over $1000. That's a bunch of money I could have better spent on radio gear. All the area hotels jack up the prices for Hamvention. They know how to make money. Even if you book it right now, they won't give you a break. And I don't mean some flea infested dump, I'm talking nice places, centrally located, and not far from the fairgrounds. So you can see, for the ham who's pretty self sufficient and willing to camp out for a few days, the rule change not allowing for camping in the flea market killed it for them.
    I can guarantee if camping where allowed at the fairgrounds, they would have to largest Hamvention in history that year! (The 15 or 20 RV spots don't count, LOL!)
  8. W9ZD

    W9ZD Subscriber QRZ Page

    Dayton is what it is. It's not what it used to be at the Hara given that a long-term contract has been signed with Green County, this is where it will be for the future. The good news is that you will eat well. Big selection of Junk Food. Tasty and plentiful. The dealers area is in outdoors buildings which are being increasingly weatherproofed. Some are air conditioned; some are not. The strong negatives are the flea areas and the separation by 30 miles or so between the Hamfest which is in Xenia, Ohio and the major events, like the banquets and contest university which are held at a hotel in downtown Dayton. There are two flea areas: a small preferred grassy area, close to the food and dealers and a larger muddy one spread out over the county fairgrounds racetrack area. This is a mud-pit unlike the Hara which was paved. Expect to get muddy traversing the fleas looking for bargains. Tough to get the boat-anchor of your dreams back to your car parked a quarter or half mile away. Discourages the flea market business. Hard to sell; hard to buy. They have tried to dump rubber shavings and straw into the dirt to keep the mud down but it doesn't work. if it rains. Last year, it didn't rain much but the year before it did and was a disaster. Cars were getting stuck trying to get in and out. This area should be paved over with asphalt. Of course since its primary use is as a fairgrounds race track, that will never happen. In summary inspite of my complaints that the site isn't as good as the Hara at Trotwood, I've been going to "Dayton" for 25 years and will go again this year. But I can't take selling and buying in the fleas very seriously.'73. W9ZD
    KA7RRA, K0UO and N1VAU like this.
  9. LU8EQ

    LU8EQ Ham Member QRZ Page


    This year was my third time attending Hamcation. Every following year, I had to park my car farther away being there at the same time...

    I got my ticket there this time, and I can say the organization was excellent. (It is KN4SEC by the way).

    I’ve found all the major brands and very good deals on the flea market space. Having luch on site should be better planned, though (more space, more vendors should be nice). Expect long lines for a pizza or a hotdog.

    There are several restrooms thru the venue, all nice and clean.

    I’m planning on attending Hamcation 2020 hoping to have a great time there as I always have.

    Guido LU8EQ
    N1VAU likes this.

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