The Dayton Hamvention attracts visitors from many countries who travel thousands of miles to reunite with fellow amateur radio enthusiasts.
Thomas Wrede from Germany said he had attended the Hamvention about 20 times. An engineer by training, Wrede has been a member of the German amateur radio club for 51 years.
“I started with an interest in electronics and communications. When I started, kids didn’t have portable devices they could use to Skype around the world,” he said. “Now my main interest is talking to people and building friendships, but also doing technical experiments.”
Eric and Lourdes Lowery, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, have attended the Hamvention three times together. Eric said he started experimenting with amateur radio in the early 80s.
“I’ve always been into radios and transmitters and I really started with CB (citizens band) radios,” he said. “It’s fun to be able to talk to people all over the world directly from radio to radio rather than over a phone line.”
Sponsored by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, Hamvention generates an estimated $33 million in economic impact in the region, according to the Greene County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Radio enthusiasts gather to mingle with like-minded people, attend forums, view exhibits, and browse wares from indoor and outdoor flea market vendors, which offer a huge assortment of vintage radios.