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RARSfest Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQ’s for Everyone

  1. What is RARSfest?

    RARSfest is a “hamfest.” A “hamfest” is like a festival or a state fair for amateur radio operators. We have dealers, who sell new amateur radio and other electronic equipment and accessories. We have exhibitors, showing off cool technology. We have a flea market, where people sell their used, sometimes antique, amateur radio and other electronic equiment. We have meetings and forums, where you can learn about various aspects of the amateur radio hobby. And we have a testing session, where you can earn or level-up your amateur radio license.


  2. When is RARSfest?

    RARSfest is on Saturday, April 6, 2024, the weekend after Easter. The doors are open to the public from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm.


  3. Where is RARSfest? How do I get there?

    RARSfest is in the Jim Graham Building at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Please see our Directions page for help finding us.


  4. When can I buy tickets? How much will they cost? Can I buy tickets on line?

    Tickets will go on sale starting on January 30, 2024. You can buy tickets on line through March 30. We will also be selling tickets in-person at the RARS Gathering and at various other amateur radio club meetings and events in the Triangle area. You can also buy tickets at the door on the day before and the day of the show. Prices will be higher after March 30. Ticket prices and other details can be found on the General Admission page.


  5. I am a license exam candidate. Do I need to buy a ticket to attend the exam session?

    You do not need to buy a ticket to attend the exam session. If you earn your first amateur radio license at this exam session, ask one of the Volunteer Examiners for a complimentary RARSfest admission ticket (which is not eligible for any prizes). Otherwise, you do need to buy a ticket if you want to attend RARSfest before or after the exam session or if you want to be eligible for the prize drawings. Use the right-hand entrance at the north end of the Jim Graham Building. Good luck on the test!


  6. I am coming for the SKYWARN class, which I understand is free. Do I need to buy a ticket to attend the SKYWARN class?

    You do not need to buy a ticket to attend just the SKYWARN class. You do need to buy a ticket if you want to attend RARSfest before or after the SKYWARN class, which we highly recommend. Use the right-hand entrance at the north end of the Jim Graham Building.


  7. Which entrance to the Jim Graham Building should I use?

    There are multiple entrances to the Jim Graham Buidling. Which one you should use depends on who you are. It will be helpful to look at this map in conjunction with the information below.

    If you are a general admission attendee, and

    • You don't have a ticket and it's the day of the show, use the left-hand main entrance at the north end of the building to buy one;
    • You bought your ticket online or by mail during the “Early Bird” Period, use the right-hand entrance at the north end of the building to pick up your ticket and wrist-band at the will-call table;
    • You have a physical ticket that you bought from us at another hamfest, The Gathering, or the day before the show, you can use either of the entrances at the north end of the building;
    • You don't have a ticket and it's the day before the show, use the “Load-In Entrance” on the west side of the building to buy one between noon to 7:00 pm.

    If you are a dealer, exhibitor, flea market seller, or RARSfest volunteer or staff member, use the “Load-In Entrance” on the west side of the building.

    If you are a license exam candidate or attending the SKYWARN class, use the right-hand entrance at the north end of the building.


  8. I will be driving to RARSfest. Is there convenvient parking? How much does it cost?

    Yes, there is plenty of FREE PARKING at the Fairgrounds, right next to the RARSfest building. Please see the map of the Fairgrounds on the Directions page.


  9. I bought tickets on-line during the “Early Bird” period (from January 30 through March 30, 2024). I thought you were going to mail me a physical ticket, but all I received was an acknowledgment email. What do I do?

    Don't worry, you didn't miss anything. We don't mail physical tickets for on-line purchases. Just bring your confirmation email to the will-call desk to pick up your tickets when you come to RARSfest. ID may be required.


  10. I received a complimentary admission ticket. I understand that complimentary tickets are not eligible for prize drawings, but I want a shot at your fabulous prizes. What can I do?

    You can buy an admission ticket even if you received a complimentary one. Purchased tickets are eligible for prize drawings.


  11. I am part of a group of people who are going to RARSfest together. One member of our group bought all the tickets on-line. We may not get to the RARSfest location at the same time. Can we each pick up our tickets individually when we get there?

    The on-line ticketing systems allows the purchaser to enter names and contact information for each ticket individually. If the person purchasing the tickets for the group entered your name and contact information for one of the tickets, then you (and only you) will be able to pick up that ticket at the will-call table at RARSfest. ID may be required. If the purchaser entered his or her name for all the tickets, then only the purchaser will be able to pick them up, in which case you will have to sort out amongst yourselves how that person will distribute the tickets to the rest of you.


  12. I am part of a group of people who are going to RARSfest together. One member of our group bought all the tickets on-line. If one of those tickets is a winner in a prize drawing, who gets the prize?

    We call the name and/or callsign on the ticket we draw for the prize. The on-line ticketing systems allows the purchaser to enter names and contact information for each ticket individually. If the person purchasing the tickets for the group entered your name and contact information for one of the tickets, and we draw that ticket, you (and only you) will be able to claim the prize. ID may be required. If the purchaser entered his or her name for all the tickets and we draw one of those tickets, then only that person will be able to claim the prize and who gets the prize is up to the members of the group to figure out.


  13. I mailed you a check with the “Early Bird” Order Form. It was post-marked by March 30, 2024. Are we good? Do I qualify for the discounted ticket price and the “Early Bird” prize drawing?

    Nope. In order to qualify for “Early Bird” pricing and the prize drawing, we must receive your order form and check by March 30. The postmarked date doesn't count.

    If we receive your order form and check before RARSfest starts, we will try to have your tickets waiting for you at the will-call table, but you will have to pay the difference in price and your ticket stub(s) will not go into the barrel for the “Early Bird” prize.

    If we haven't received them in time, you can buy tickets at the door (and have the chance to win other wonderful prizes), and we will tear your check up if and when we do receive it.


  14. I missed the “Early Bird” period. Can I buy tickets at the door? Do you accept credit/debit cards?

    Yes, you can buy tickets at the roll-up doors on the west side of the Jim Graham Building on the NC State Fairgrounds on the day before the show, Friday, April 5, 2024, from noon to 7:00 pm. You can also buy tickets at the main door on the day of the hamfest, starting at 7:30 am, a half an hour before the hamfest starts at 8:00 am. Tickets at the doors are $12 each. We accept major credit and debit cards at the doors.


  15. I bought tickets on-line. My plans have changed. Can I resell the tickets or cancel and get a refund?

    No. Tickets purchased on-line are issued in the name of the purchaser. We have no way to transfer them. Only you can pick them up at RARSfest. ID may be required. Putting on RARSfest is expensive, and we count on revenue from ticket sales. We don't give refunds just because you changed your mind. We don't save any money if you don't come.


  16. I bought tickets from you at another hamfest or other event, so I have physical tickets. My plans have changed. Can I resell the tickets or cancel and get a refund?

    If you have a physical ticket, we can't stop you from giving or selling it to someone else. But be aware that the prize stub, which we kept when we sold you the ticket, has your name and contact information on it. If we draw your prize stub, the person you sold or gave your ticket to (a) won't be able to claim the prize for you, and (b) won't be able to claim the prize for themselves.

    We don't give refunds unless the show is completely cancelled. Putting on RARSfest is expensive, and we count on revenue from ticket sales. We don't give refunds just because you changed your mind. We don't save any money if you don't come.


  17. Will there be food? What time will the restuarant be open? Can I get a cup of coffee while I'm waiting for the hamfest to start?

    Yes! Cousin's Confections will have food and beverages for sale in the restaurant area in the northeast corner of the building (lower left corner on the Event Floor Plan) on the day of the show from 7:30 am to 2:00 pm. They will be serving assorted Danish; sausage, bacon and ham biscuits; assorted juices; and fresh brewed coffee for breakfast; and burgers, hot dogs, BBQ pork sandwiches, assorted wraps, soft drinks, and lemonade for lunch!

    From 7:30 am until 8:00 am, the restaurant will be accessible via the hallway off the vestibule at the front of the Jim Graham Building (lower left corner on the Event Floor Plan) so people waiting in line to buy tickets or to enter the hamfest can get a beverage and a snack while they are waiting.

    Once the hamfest starts at 8:00 am, we will close the door to the restaurant in the hallway and open the door to the restaurant from the show floor, at which point the restaurant will be accessible only from the show floor. This is so we can limit access to the show floor to only those people who have hamfest tickets.


  18. Can I bring my dog/cat/rabbit/snake/unicorn to RARSfest?

    The Fairgounds discourages people from bringing pets. The Jim Graham Building is not a particularly pet-friendly environment. Pets would find it crowded, noisy, and chaotic.

    Service animals are, of course, always permitted. Please note that in North Carolina service animals are limited to dogs that are individually trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Please also note that we are allowed to ask what tasks the dog performs.

    All that being said, we will not turn you away if you bring a quiet, well-behaved dog or unicorn on a short leash, but we may require you to leave (without a refund) if it does not stay that way. Fairgrounds rules require that all pets within the Fairgrounds have current rabies vaccinations. Do not bring any other animals to the Jim Graham Building. It should go without saying that you are responsible for anything your dog or unicorn does, including cleaning up after it. And do not, under any circumstances, leave an animal unattended in your vehicle.


  19. I'm coming from out-of-town. Where should I stay?

    The Fairgrounds has a page on its website listing local accommodations.


  20. I'm coming from out-of-town in my RV. Is there a campground nearby?

    The Fairgrounds has an on-site RV campground. RV camping only, however. No tent camping on-site.


  21. I've seen some really cool vehicles on display at RARSfest in the past. Can I park my vehicle inside the building?

    We are glad you have enjoyed the static display. Vehicle display inside the building is by invitation only. If you have a really cool communications-related vehicle you would like to display at RARSfest, please contact the RARSfest Chair, Nancy Torborg, KB2TNR. Otherwise, no other vehicles are allowed in the building during the show hours.


FAQ’s for Dealers and Exhibitors

  1. What is the Commercial Area? Who can purchase space there?

    The Commercial Area is in a prime traffic area, right at the front of the show floor when attendees come in through the main entrances. Only commercial sellers of new amateur radio and related equipment (so-called "Dealers") and non-commercial amateur-radio-related organizations that are not selling anything (other than memberships and incidental logoed merchandise) (so-called "Exhibitors") can purchase space in the Commercial Area.

    Sellers of used equipment should purchase tables in the Flea Market.

    See the Event Floor Plan for the locations of the various areas.


  2. What kinds of spaces are available in the Commercial Area?

    RARSfest offers two kinds of spaces in the Commercial Area

    • Attractive 10' x 10' pipe & drape booths with tables, chairs, and divider curtains, and
    • Eight-foot tables (with chairs) in a custom arrangement (space permitting)

    Some Dealers and Exhibitors prefer the professional look of the booths, others prefer the flexibilty of the tables.


  3. I don't see any pricing on the Commercial Area page. How much do the booths and tables cost? How do I order booth or table space?

    For booth space, please contact Chuck Littlewood K4HF, +1 (919) 630-9358, K4HF953@Yahoo.com or Nancy Torborg, KB2TNR (Click to Email) and ask for the Dealer Package.

    For tables in the Commercial Area, please contact Jeremy Lindsley K2HJX, +1 (919) 523-9631

    Please note that the deadline for ordering space in the Commercial Area is March 30, a week before the hamfest.


  4. I need more space than one booth or table gives me. Can I purchase multiple booths, or multiple tables?

    Yes. Yes, you can. Subject to availability, of course. Please make your request at the time of ordering.


  5. I see that I get up to four complimentary admissions tickets if I purchase space in the Commercial Area. Do I get extra complimentary tickets if I purchase a "double-wide" booth or multiple tables?

    No. The limit is four complimentary tickets regardless of how much booth space or how many tables you purchase in the Commercial Area.


  6. What are my obligations concerning sales tax?

    All persons (including dealers, exhibitors, and flea market sellers) offering goods for sale at RARSfest are responsible for complying with their obligations in respect of sales and use taxes, including payment of any federal and state taxes owed in conjunction with sales at RARSfest.

    The following appears on the website of the North Carolina Department of Revenue and is copied here for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, and is not, legal advice.

    “A person engaged in business in this State and selling tangible personal property, and certain digital property at retail, or rendering a taxable service at specialty markets, flea markets, fairs, festivals, sporting events, entertainment events, and other events and functions must register with the North Carolina Department of Revenue and is required to collect and remit sales and use tax unless a specific exemption applies to the product sold.”

    For more information, visit https://www.ncdor.gov/taxes-forms/sales-and-use-tax/specialty-markets-or-other-events#2 or contact the North Carolina Department of Revenue. RARSfest personnel will not answer tax-related questions.


  7. Can I drive my vehicle into the Jim Graham Building to unload my stuff before the hamfest and then again load it back up at the end?

    Yes, you can! Please see the Vehicle Access Information page for more information.


  8. Can I park my vehicle or trailer inside the Jim Graham Building during the hamfest?

    No, you cannot. There isn't enough space in the building to accommodate sellers' vehicles or trailers during the hamfest. Please move your vehicle out of the building promptly after unloading it. There is plenty of free parking outside. All vehicles have to be out of the building before the hamfest can start. See the Vehicle Access Information page for more information.


FAQ’s for Flea Market Sellers

  1. What is the Flea Market? Who can purchase space there?

    The Flea Market is for non-commercial sellers of used amateur radio and related equipment and for amateur radio clubs that are selling nothing other than memberships and incidential club logoed merchandise.

    See the Commercial Area page if you are a commercial seller of new amateur radio and related equipment or a non-commercial exhibitor related to amateur radio.

    See the Event Floor Plan for the locations of the various areas.


  2. When can I buy tables? How much will they cost? Can I buy tables on line?

    Tables will go on sale starting on January 30, 2024. You can buy tables on line starting then. You will be able to find prices, a link to our on-line ordering system, and other details on the Flea Market page.


  3. Can I pick my table location? Can I be next to my friend Bob?

    We assign tables on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can't pick your location, but we will try to accommodate reasonable requests made at the time of purchase, subject to availability, of course. If you want to be near other Flea Market sellers, your best bet is to buy your tables at the same time as each other and note that you want to be together in the comments. Please note, however, that the assignment of tables is entirely at our discrection, and assignments may change at our discretion up to and including the day of the event.


  4. Can I drive my vehicle up to my table(s) to unload and load my gear?

    Yes, or at least as close as other traffic will allow. The lanes in the Flea Market are narrow, so please unload your gear at your table and move your vehicle out of the building promptly before coming back to set up. At the end of the hamfest, please have your gear packed up and ready to go before going to get your vehicle. Please see our Vehicle Access Information page for important information about how, when, and where you can drive in and out of the building .


  5. Can I park my vehicle or trailer inside the Jim Graham Building during the hamfest?

    No, you cannot. There isn't enough space in the building to accommodate sellers' vehicles or trailers during the hamfest. There is plenty of free parking outside. All vehicles have to be out of the building before the hamfest can start. See the Vehicle Access Information page for more information.


  6. I am busy during the set-up windows (noon to 7:00 pm on Friday and 6:00 am to 7:30 am on Saturday). Can I come off-hours, say earlier Friday or Saturday morning or later Friday night, instead?

    No. No one except RARSfest Staff and Volunteers is permitted in the building before noon or after 7:00 pm on Friday or before 6:00 am on Saturday. We need time before the set-up windows open to make sure everything is ready. You can set up your table(s) any time after 6:00 am on the day of the show, but you won't be able to drive a vehicle into the building after 7:30 am.


  7. I don't like the table location you assigned me. Can I change it?

    Probably not. Contact Jeremy Lindsley, K2HJX and we will see what we can do, but be aware that we are dealing with literally hundreds of orders and special requests, so requests for changes to existing assignments will, in most cases, not be granted.


  8. My plans have changed, or I don't like the table location you assigned me. Can I cancel and get a refund?

    We do not give refunds unless the show is completely cancelled. Putting on RARSfest is expensive, and we count on revenue from ticket and table sales. We have to order the tables from the Fairgrounds in advance. We don't save any money if you don't come. And if you take a table and cancel it, you may have deprived someone else of the table in the meantime.


  9. What are my obligations concerning sales tax?

    All persons (including dealers, exhibitors, and flea market sellers) offering goods for sale at RARSfest are responsible for complying with their obligations in respect of sales and use taxes, including payment of any federal and state taxes owed in conjunction with sales at RARSfest.

    The following appears on the website of the North Carolina Department of Revenue and is copied here for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, and is not, legal advice.

    “A person engaged in business in this State and selling tangible personal property, and certain digital property at retail, or rendering a taxable service at specialty markets, flea markets, fairs, festivals, sporting events, entertainment events, and other events and functions must register with the North Carolina Department of Revenue and is required to collect and remit sales and use tax unless a specific exemption applies to the product sold.”

    For more information, visit https://www.ncdor.gov/taxes-forms/sales-and-use-tax/specialty-markets-or-other-events#2 or contact the North Carolina Department of Revenue. RARSfest personnel will not answer tax-related questions.


FAQ’s for Volunteers

  1. Why should I volunteer at RARSfest? What are the benefits of volunteering?

    There are many benefits of being a RARSfest volunteer, among them

    • Complimentary RARSfest admission for volunteers who register through the Volunteer Sign-Up System (and show up for their shift(s), of course). Complimentary tickets are not eligible for the hamfest prize drawings, but you may buy an admission ticket in order to be eligible
    • The opportunity to win a really cool door prize in a volunteer-only prize drawing to be held at a later date for volunteers who sign up through the Volunteer Sign-Up System (and show up for their shift(s))
    • The personal satisfaction of supporting your club, if you are a RARS member
    • The personal satisfaction of supporting the amateur radio community, if you are an amateur radio operator or interested in becoming one
    • The fun and camaraderie of spending time with other like-minded volunteers
    • The opportunity to sell a reasonable number of items through the RARS Volunteer Consignment Table, relieving you of the time and expense of renting and staffing a table yourself
    • And, finally and perhaps most importantly, helping to ensure the continuation of RARSfest into the future. The biggest threat to hamfests today is the lack of volunteers. Some large hamfests that were suspended during COVID have not come back, due in part to the lack of volunteers. We need your help to keep RARSfest alive.


  2. Do I need to buy a ticket to volunteer?

    No! In a change from prior years, we have decided to comp admission for volunteers who sign up through the Volunteer Sign-Up System. Sign up (and show up) for at least one two-hour shift on Friday or Saturday, and you will receive complimentary admission to the hamfest.

    That being said, you are welcome to buy an admission ticket to be eligible for the hamfest prize drawings, and we could certainly use the money.


  3. Do I need to be a RARS member to volunteer at RARSfest?

    No, you do not need to be a RARS member to volunteer at RARSfest. RARSfest is a big event, we need lots of help, and we welcome anyone who is able to volunteer.


  4. Do I need to be a licensed amateur radio operator to volunteer at RARSfest?

    Generally, you do not. Most roles do not require the use of an amateur radio. Some roles do, though, like Talk-In and Security, but if you want to sign up for one of those positions and don't have a license, find a buddy who does and sign up together.


  5. How do I volunteer?

    Go to the Volunteer page. You will find descriptions of all the volunteer positions and a link to sign up!


  6. When can I sign up? When does the Volunteer Sign-Up System open?

    You can sign up when the Volunteer Sign-Up System opens on January 30, 2024.


  7. Do I need to use the Volunteer Sign-Up System? Can I just show up?

    We strongly prefer that volunteers use the Volunteer Sign-Up System. That way we know who is coming and we have our volunteers' contact information to keep them informed. And you must use the Volunteer Sign-Up System to be eligible for complimentary admission and the special volunteer-only prize drawing.

    That being said, if you do just show up, we will gladly try to find a job for you, but you won't receive complimentary admission and your name won't go into the pot for the Volunteer Prize drawing.


  8. Can I sign up for multiple shifts and/or areas?

    Yes, please. In fact, we encourage it. Just be careful, though, because the shift times can vary by area. Don't sign up for a shift in one area that overlaps with a shift you have signed up for in another area, unless you have figured out how to be in two places at once (in which case, let's talk).


  9. If I sign up for multiple shifts, will I receive multiple complimentary admission tickets, like for my friends?

    No. One complimentary admission per volunteer.


  10. If I sign up for multiple shifts, will I receive multiple entries for the Volunteer Prize?

    No. One entry per volunteer.


  11. I read that complimentary tickets are not eligible for prize drawings. If volunteers are being given complimentary admission, are they eligible for prize drawings?

    Just like any complimentary admission ticket, the ones given to volunteers are not eligible for prize drawings at the hamfest.

    BUT, volunteers who sign up through the Volunteer Sign-Up System (and show up) are eligible for the volunteer-only prize drawing to be held at a later volunteer celebration event, and, of course, volunteers may purchase admission tickets, including during the “Early Bird” period, to be eligible for the hamfest drawings.


  12. I've never volunteered at a hamfest before. How will I know what to do?

    Don't worry. Your “section leader” will tell you what to do when you arrive for your shift.


  13. What time should I arrive for my shift(s)?

    Please arrive at least 15 minutes early for your shift, especially for the first shift of the day.


  14. I have signed up for the first shift on Saturday. The Fairgrounds is usually closed at that time. How do I get in?

    Please use Gate 5 to enter the Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds will open it specially for us at about 5:30 am. It will be the only gate open early on Saturday.


  15. Where should I go when it's time for me to report for my shift?

    Enter the building through the roll-up door on the west side of the building (aka the “load-in” entrance or the “Flea Market” entrance), and check in at the Volunteer Check-In Table. We will have your wristband there. You won't need an admission ticket to get in.


  16. I need more information, like what to do in an emergency, what radio frequency to use to contact my section leader and other volunteers, where things are, and so forth. Where do I get specific information I would need as a volunteer?

    A day or two before the hamfest, we will distribute by email to all registered volunteers a Volunteer Information Sheet that has pretty much everything you will need to know as a volunteer.


  17. I am interested in volunteering for a RARSfest Staff position. Who should I contact?

    Please contact the RARSfest Chair, Nancy Torborg.


  18. I'm a Volunteer Examiner helping to (or wanting to help) administer the amateur radio exams at RARSfest. Do I need to use the Volunteer Sign-Up System to register with the Volunteer Examiner Team? Am I eligible for complimentary admission to RARSfest and the special volunteer-only prize drawing?

    The Volunteer Examiner Team is handled completely separately from the running of RARSfest. You do not need to (and in fact cannot) use the Volunteer Sign-Up System to sign up for the VE Team, and as a Volunteer Examiner you are not eligible for complimentary admission to RARSfest or for the special volunteer-only prize drawing. Contact Richard Hall K7RLH regarding the VE Team.

    However, many VE's also volunteer to help with RARSfest during periods of time when they are not fulfilling their VE responsibilites. If you do want to volunteer for RARSfest, then you would be eligible for complimentary admission and the volunteer-only prize if you register using the Volunteer Sign-Up System.