Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Iditarod Picnic and sign ups set for Saturday

Jessie Holmes and Dan Kaduce chat at the 2022
Iditarod Picnic & Sign Ups. Iditarod HQ.
June 25, 2022
Happy Summer Solstice, IditaFans! We're nearing the end of June and with that comes the final Saturday of the month being the kick off for the next Iditarod. No, teams are not running any time soon to Nome, but they are dreaming big as the official opening of registration for next year's race opens Saturday morning at 9:30am Alaska time.

The Picnic is a thank you to the countless hours put in to make the race successful each year by the numerous volunteers throughout the State of Alaska. Located in Wasilla at the Iditarod Headquarters, it is an informal but festive get together for mushers, volunteers, and fans to chat with one another in the relaxed Alaskan setting.

Though the picnic is about the volunteers and feeds over one hundred people each summer, there's some very serious stuff going on as this is also when mushers show up to through their hat in the ring for the next Iditarod. Mushers that sign up in person and stay through the whole picnic are eligible to win their entry fee back as well as possible other door prizes (typically dog food and other items for mushing purposes). 

The Iditarod Headquarters is a popular tourist destination throughout the summer, with tour buses coming in regularly to stop and drop off vacationers wanting to learn about the last great race. This does not take a holiday on picnic day, so adding them into the mix makes for a very busy and bustling day for those working the gift shop inside HQ. 

Most years there are also dog cart rides run by an Iditarod kennel. These happen the entirety of summer and, like everything else, do not stop just because the picnic is happening. For years the Redingtons (most recently Raymie and Barb) conducted the tours, but after "retiring" from the gig in 2021, it's now Riley Dyche's party this summer. Not only do visitors get to take a ride, they also get to meet the dogs and often get to snuggle puppies. What's not to love, right?

Attendees can also expect to see a few "old timers" from the early days of Iditarod. Often you'll see Dick Mackey and Dan Seavey attend to swap essentially the same stories about those first few years of Iditarod. Both have seen their mushing legacy continue in their children and grandchildren and both can boast of their accomplishments (Dan is father to Iditarod Champ Mitch Seavey and grandfather to Iditarod Champion record holder Dallas Seavey, Dick Mackey is father to Iditarod Champions Rick Mackey and the legendary Lance Mackey). There are always several Redingtons on hand and we often see fan favorite DeeDee Jonrowe stop by to check in.

The great thing about the picnic is everyone is laid back and you can easily snag a relaxed photo with your favorite musher and get autographs. There are door prizes for volunteers attending, some old Iditarod memorabilia and some are door prizes donated by the kennels. No matter the weather people are in a good mood and everyone is eager to see who puts their name on the list.

If you're local, stop by. Even if you aren't a volunteer it's a nice way to learn a little bit about the race and maybe catch the volunteer bug. If you're visiting Alaska and are traveling through Wasilla be sure to make a stop at the Iditarod Headquarters. Even if you miss out on the picnic, there's still a good chance you'll run into a musher or two any day of the week (anyone bitten by the Iditarod bug can't seem to stay away). If nothing else you can get you some IditaSwag and maybe snuggle a puppy (but man they will frisk you before you leave if they think you tried sneaking a puppy in your pocket).

The one thing EVERYONE will be wondering throughout Saturday is who and how many will sign up for Iditarod 52. While registration is open through November, the biggest surge is always opening day. Who do you hope will sign up, or who do you expect to sign up? How many teams do you think will sign up opening day? Comment below with your thoughts or if you're planning to attend the picnic! (and if you see me I'm shy but please don't hesitate to come up and say hi. I just don't initiate conversation, but I don't mind holding conversation!)

As always, if you like what you see and want to support my addiction (I mean HOBBY) of following these races and stalking (I mean cheering on) the mushers, you can buy me a slice of pizza (that really goes to paying for my internet/web expenses).

No comments:

Post a Comment