After Iditarod ends, business owners take stock

With mushers, dogs, visitors, and tourists back at home, shop owners and artisans shared their thoughts on Nome’s tourism revenue from after the 2023 race — traditionally, one of the busiest tourist seasons of the year. 

“There were a lot more people in town, especially after last year’s Iditarod,” city manager Glenn Steckman said. “The flights were full.” 

While this year’s numbers were down from the pre-pandemic era, there was a clear increase from last year. Particularly for people who depend on tourism for income, like crafters and artists, ‘Iditarod week’ is an important source of revenue. Cheryl Thompson organized the annual Iditarod Craft Fair, which has been a staple of the community for more than two decades. She said the fair was well-attended. 

“We pretty much had customers all week long,” Thompson said. “It looked like there were a lot of people in town.” 

With only 33 mushers and dog teams participating this year, roughly half the usual race size, there were not as many fans traveling to see the finish. Also, the closure of a hotel that sustained fire damage during the record storm last fall meant 47 fewer rooms available for visitors. 

Image at top: The annual Iditarod Craft Fair, held at Old St. Joe’s, attracted visitors from near and far. Photo by KJ McElwee.