Inside the Hara Arena complex, in the portion of Ball Arena devoted to the ARRL Expo, gold curtains are hung and tugged into place by the setup team. Banners are dusted off, backdrops are ironed, and tables are meticulously organized.
The steady beep of a forklift breaks through the hum of chatter echoing through the room. The smell of pizza hangs heavy in the air as setup crews finish smoothing tablecloths and pulling chairs into place.
Throughout the complex, the pattern continues. The difference between exhibit halls is denoted in the color of the curtains surrounding the exhibits: blue, red, grey, gold.
At one end of Hara Arena stands a stage that looks like it would fit in at a summertime rock show. Antennas stretch toward the ceiling, some just barely missing the safety netting surrounding the stadium, leftover from hockey games regularly hosted there.
On the show floor, hand trucks squeak past people on ladders carefully polishing a gleaming white display. Enormous crates are cracked open and pushed aside to make way for the goods they hold.
Volunteers and staff carrying boxes pass each other, never missing a step as they trade hellos, or share a joke. The constant buzz of voices is punctuated every so often by laughter and exclamations, friends finding each other in the same place they were a year before.
There is a sense of peaceful calamity; a muted calm in the face of chaos. It is noisy. It is busy. It is the day before Hamvention.