Telling Alaska’s Story: The Wilderness Woman

Emily Fleissner named 2021 winner
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 3:36 PM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TALKEETNA, Alaska (KTUU) - In the small, tucked-away town of Talkeetna, Alaska is a competition that only a true sourdough can victor: The Wilderness Woman.

The Talkeetna Bachelors Society held its 35th Wilderness Woman Contest on Saturday. The contest, and bachelor auction that follows, raises money for women and children in crisis. Last year the contest and auction were canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but this year, Talkeetna Bachelors Society President Phillip Manning said the nonprofit broke its previous record by more than $10,000, raising over $40,000 during the event.

The society and bachelor auction was created in 1981 at the Fairview Inn. In order to allow women to show off their own uniquely Alaskan skill set, Pam Rannals created the Wilderness Woman Contest five years later.

It takes skill, precision and true Alaskan grit to be named The Wilderness Woman. Ladies 21 years and older who are single sign up to compete in three rounds of homestead tasks to claim the title and be crowned with a fur hat. The first round consists of hauling water down Main Street and the five contestants with the fastest times move on to compete in the final two rounds.

In round two, competitors make a sandwich and open a beverage for a bachelor in waiting before sawing wood, packing it into a trailer attached to a fat tire bike, and hauling it across the village park to unload. From there, they enter into the final round of the competition where participants catch a fish, shoot a “ptarmigan,” ring the dinner bell and “hunt” a moose before snowshoeing their way to the finish line.

It was all in a day’s work for Emily Fleissner, who Manning said via email was crowned the 2021 Wilderness Woman.

Copyright 2021 KTUU. All rights reserved.