It was a full house in Whitehorse tonight as the Yukon Quest was celebrated through music, stories and fellowship.
A full house with Commando and Willie in the background
The Canadian Rangers lead all the mushers into the hall during the flag procession then we were all welcomed by Chief Doris Bill, Kwanlin Dun First Nation and Michele Telep, Ta'an Kwach'an First Nation, both speaking about how the Yukon Quest is important to their communities. After the national anthems of Canada and USA, representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the local Yukon MP and the Whitehorse Mayor also spoke about the Quest and it's impact on the Yukon.
All the finishing mushers
We chose our table well as we were the first to be drawn to go to the buffet! Yum. During dinner we enjoyed a performance by the Air North Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Can-Can Dancers - including some moves from the Red Lantern winner Gaetan Pierrard.
Scott Chesney and his photography/videography team of Julien Schroder and Whitney McKaren put together an amazing montage of stills and videos from the race. We've all enjoyed their beautiful work during the race and the montage was really quite moving. Check it out on the "Quest Facebook page now.
Each musher came up to the stage to thank their dogs, handlers, families, sponsors and supporters. Most told stories about their time on the trail and referenced the "Quest Family"; something that brings mushers back year after year. After Hugh Neff's champion's speech we were all treated to a performance of the Wolf Dance from the Dakka Kwaan Dancers, a local first nation group, that was simply awesome.
The Flag Procession; Seal Fur mittens by MadMitters
Allen told the story of how he ended up in the water before Mile 101 checkpoint - he got his leg caught up in one of the lines on his sled and while trying to free it he and his sled flopped over into the water. He told the dogs "straight ahead" and they drug him through the water out the other side. Good dogs!
For coming in third place, Allen won a beautiful pair of seal skin mitts from "Matmitters" in Dawson City.
Congratulations to all the other prizewinners tonight - head over to the Yukon Quest Facebook page and website for more photos and further details.