XENIA — One of Greene County’s largest annual events will not take place again this year.
Because of COVID-19, Dayton Hamvention has been cancelled for the second straight year, according to an email from the event’s executive committee.
“Unfortunately, several setbacks in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic make necessary the difficult decision to cancel Hamvention 2021,” the email, which was also posted on the Hamvention website said. “Vaccine distribution both in the United States and around the world is lagging behind what was planned. In addition, the emergence of a more communicable form of the COVID-19 virus increases the potential for further public health problems in the next few months. We make this difficult decision for the safety of our guests and vendors.”
Hamvention came to Greene County from Montgomery County in 2017 and attracts almost 33,000 visitors to the Greene County Fairgrounds and the Xenia area. In 2019, 32,472 visitors from 50 states and 60 countries attended. The weekend pumps an estimated $30 million into the region’s economy and between $15-19 million to Greene County.
That’s roughly $60 million lost the last two years.
“That’s a big hit,” said Kathleen Wright, executive director of the Greene County Visitors and Convention Bureau. “This pandemic, it hurts the tourism industry, I think harder than any.”
Wright said activity at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has helped, but tourism overall is “suffering.”
“In Greene County we’ve been a little bit better off because we have the base,” Wright said. “That’s helped us a little bit, not a lot. The base still travels some. They still have people coming an going a little bit.”
She added that the Mills Park hotel in Yellow Springs has done well due to comedian Dave Chappelle bringing in celebrities for shows and the Hampton hotel in Xenia has had steady traffic as well.
Xenia officials said they understand the reasons for cancellation, but are disappointed, nonetheless. They are looking to the future.
“Hamvention provides room-nights for our hotels and potential additional business to restaurants and retailers throughout Xenia and Greene County,” said Steve Brodsky, development director for Xenia. “Moreover, it provides an opportunity for Xenia to be recognized internationally as the home for this major global convention. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Hamvention in 2022 and building on the many opportunities it creates.”
City Manager Brent Merriman said the cancellation “is a sign that as much as we want things to return to normal, we are not yet on track to realize it.”
Wright said studies show that travel is expected to pick up more in the third and fourth quarter of 2021.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed there,” she said. “We really need it to pick back up. Our hotels, the airline industry, especially in middle America here, we need it to pick back up bad. We just need the pandemic to go away.”
Hamvention 2022 is tentatively planned for May 20-22, 2022 and will be in Greene County through at least 2024, per a five-year deal signed with the Greene County Agricultural Society in 2019.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.