|Jeff King happily signs a volunteer's armband at the Willow Restart. (2013)|
The Musher's Banquet is another opportunity for race fans to mingle with all of the mushers. It is a mandatory event for participants because it is where they will draw their bib numbers - this of course determines when they leave out of the start (both Ceremonial and Restart). The banquet typically has Hobo Jim on stage singing away - and sometimes other talent as well (in 2010 we were serenaded by a very young Conway Seavey, it was highly entertaining... and now he's making a name for himself in music). There is an auction, there's good food, there's Iditarod inspired wine.
Fans, sponsors and mushers gather at tables... check out the merchandise... check out the wines... they hob knob. Mushers reconnect. It's really a big party - just with a few dignitaries. Mushers go up to the podium to draw their number - and the order with which they go up is by the order with which they signed up for the race. They are given a few minutes to thank their family, friends, and sponsors and give soundbytes. You can guarantee the more charismatic mushers put on a show.
It's a ticketed event and it's well worth it - I don't know if they're sold out this year, but even if you can't make the actual event you CAN watch on the Iditarod Insider. If you haven't signed up for a subscription - do so. It's well worth the $$ for all of the inside info. Especially the video and GPS. You can watch the Musher's Banquet LIVE tomorrow night. It starts at 6pm AKST.
I won't get to watch - I will be on the road headed to Anchorage. Can't wait to get up there! I'm getting a toasted Quiznos Sub for dinner. Then Friday it's all about the Iditarod, and capping it off Saturday with the Ceremonial Start! w00t!