The Washington Nationals have announced the return of NatsFest, an off-season fan festival featuring meet-and-greet opportunities with players, staff, and future prospects, plus interactive sessions, family activities, memorabilia, and of course racing presidents.
The winter weekend event was a hit with fans in previous years, but was poorly attended after being moved to a weekday in late March 2011. There was no NatsFest in 2012, and the team had been mum about whether the event would return.
NatsFest 2013 will take place Saturday, January 26 at DC’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center from 12:00pm – 4:00pm. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Children 2 and under are admitted free.
Season ticketholders get a $5.00 discount per ticket, and get an exclusive admission from 11:00am – Noon.
In previous years, lines for player autographs have stretched to over an hour. The Nationals hope to quell this problem by limiting autographs to those who purchase $20.00 “autograph vouchers.” The number of vouchers will be limited, and proceeds go to the Nationals Dream Foundation.
There will be separate area for kids including face painting, balloon art, inflatables, and mascot appearances, including the racing presidents.
Full details at Nationals.com.
UPDATE: Fan activities will include player and mascot photo stations (this is separate from the pre-purchased autograph tickets), “Player Story Times” for kids, caricatures, games, a trophy display (Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards?), and booths with giveaways including MASN, 106.7 The Fan, and the Junior National Kids Club.
Major league players in attendance will include new off-season additions Dan Haren and Denard Span, plus Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Ross Detwiler, Danny Espinosa, Christian Garcia, Gio Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, Steve Lombardozzi, Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Moore, Drew Storen, Kurt Suzuki, Chad Tracy, Jayson Werth, and Jordan Zimmermann. No word yet on whether Rafael Soriano will be there, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
Notably absent from the list are manager Davey Johnson (traveling in Africa), third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (on his honeymoon), pitcher Stephen Strasburg (hosting his annual charity 5K run in San Diego), and first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Minor Leaguers on board for NatsFest include Corey Brown, Brian Goodwin, Nathan Karns, Ryan Perry, Anthony Rendon, Will Rhymes, and Matt Skole.
GM Mike Rizzo, owner Mark Lerner, and broadcasters Bob Carpenter, F.P. Santangelo, Charlie Slowes, and Phil Wood are also scheduled to participate in special presentations and Q&A sessions.