The Knik bar of Knik, Alaska has relied on Iditarod tourists for big business every year around race time. Traditionally, the course passes right by the bar. But the new trail map doesn't include the little town of Knik. Bruce Gellerman talks with Darlene Donnelly, the bar's owner.
GELLERMAN: For Darlene Donnelly, owner of the Knik Bar in Knik, Alaska, this year’s running of the Iditarod…didn’t. The race usually starts right in front of her bar, but not this year. Darlene is at the Knik Bar. Hi!
GELLERMAN: So was it a packed house this year?
DONNELLY: No, it was very quiet, very dead. The place is usually packed. I mean, you can’t hardly get in the doors and outside. If the Iditarod’s coming through it goes out here on the lake and across the lake, and the people can, you know, see their favorite musher come in and check in at that point, and then right across the end of the lake is where the Iditarod trail starts. We have people outside selling Alaskan-made articles, you know, their hats and their carvings and everything. So it’s kind of good for everybody.
GELLERMAN: I hear that there’s not enough snow there and that’s why they’ve moved the path.
DONNELLY: Up till last year we had snow. They said we didn’t have enough. I had drivers with trucks to dump the snow; we had groomers to groom the snow so that it would be perfect for them. And they wouldn’t do it.
GELLERMAN: Boy, what is it going to be like at the Knik Bar this year?
DONNELLY: Well, it was pretty dead. They started the race later now up there so the people don’t get even back down until, you know, six, seven o’clock at night, and of course by then everything’s over with. Everybody’s ready to go home.
GELLERMAN: Boy, that must have hurt?
DONNELLY: Oh yes, it sure did.
GELLERMAN: What do you do at the Knick that’s special for the Iditarod?
DONNELLY: Well we have Hobo Jim, who is a legend here for the Iditarod. He’s a real good entertainer, everybody knows who Hobo Jim is. He’s been coming to this bar for Iditarod for 25 years now, and he draws in a big crowd, too. They come to see him and come to see the race go through – which has not happened, I think this is the fourth year straight in a row now.
GELLERMAN: Darlene Donnelly is the owner of Knik Bar in Knik, Alaska. Well Darlene, I want to thank you very much, and I hope things get snowy next year and I hope –
DONNELLY: Yeah, you and me both. (Laughs)
GELLERMAN: Darlene, you got any Hobo Jim music there?
DONNELLY: Oh yeah, mm-hmm.
GELLERMAN: Can I hear some?
DONNELLY: Okay, hold on, let me turn the jukebox on and I’ll play the Iditarod song for you, how’s that?
GELLERMAN: That’d be great.
[MUSIC: Hobo Jim “Iditarod Trail” from ‘Thunderfoot’ (Amazing Rhythm Ace – 1982)]
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