Perhaps I'm too practical - but I think a lot of award ceremonies are overdone. If I'm receiving an age group award, this is all that I look for in the ceremony:
(a) It should be timely. As soon as the race results are verified and posted, please go ahead with the award ceremony. For example, I've seen some 5K races where the awards ceremony was scheduled 2.5 hr after the start of the 5K. Sure, I like to hang around post-race, but not for hours.
(b) Please don't mix in a whole lot of announcements, raffle ticket prizes, etc. etc. with the awards. Short and sweet is just fine.
(c) It's a nice touch to announce where the winners are from, and their finishing times. Surprisingly, not all races do that - some of them just call the runners by name.
@ 5K: Ontario Mills Run, Ontario, CA, 25:19
Angels Baseball Foundation 5K, Anaheim, CA, 24:15
@ 10K: LA Chinatown Firecracker Run, Los Angeles, CA, 51:44
Great Race of Agoura - Old Agoura 10K, Agoura Hills, CA, 50:31
I agree with all of Carol's comments totally!...Excellent points and I share in recommending the suggestions.
Also, if there are numerous events happening together, and the awards ceremony is delayed due to finishing times, then there should be other activities. I have been to several races where the overwhelming majority of winners did not even stay to get their medal or trophy because (I guess) they did not wish to hang around in sweaty clothing for hours with nothing to do.
In other words: shower or changing facilities, vendor booths/tents, a large variety of food/drink options, entertainment and so on. I have also participated in events offering all the extras and it really does make a difference in terms of hanging around for a post-race party.
In terms of fun and interesting, some races have awards for costumes, best couples running, dog/participant finishers and so on. Sometimes, the extra categories are attractive for raising funds, but again, restaurant samples and beer go a long way.
(In the absence of this, Carol is correct...get to the awards ceremony quickly).