In the Old Days, the Hugo Banquet brought most of the convention together for a combination of dinner and the presentation of the Hugo Awards. In some respects, it was a more informal affair that today's Hugo ceremony. It was normally presided over by the Toastmaster, and included speeches by members of the committee, and the GoHs (sometimes full-length speeches. For a more-than-full-length speech at one of the last Hugo banquets, see Baycon.)
The Hugo Banquet tended to be quite expensive by the standards of the time, and Hugo banquet prices was a major issue at early Worldcons. Attempts to circumvent the high cost of the banquet meal led to the Balcony Insurgents and Dave Kyle Says You Can't Sit Here at NyCon II. (See also Dave Kyle's NyCon II reminiscence.)
One of the features of a number of early Hugo banquets was a wide-angle banquet photo showing the entire room in one large print.
The Hugo Banquet fell out of favor in the early 70s and the last Hugo banquet was in 19??.