KTNA Studio – Dave Totten, artist

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by Dora Miller

KTNA Studio

KTNA On Air Studio, Jan 2013

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by James Trump

Winter Black-capped Chickadee

winter chickadee

Photo by Robin Song

Fish Lake morning

Fish Lake morning

photo: Robin Song


A flood of lights kicks off Winterfest, and Wilderness Women compete for glory in Talkeetna

by KTNA Staff ~ December 3rd, 2012

by Melis Coady

Last weekend kicked off Talkeetna’s annual Winterfest with a busy schedule of festivities. Friday’s parade of lights through downtown featured a number of great floats with a strong showing by D&S Road Services, Talkeetna Taxi, Talkeetna Ambulance and Talkeetna Transit. Less industrial floats included Jason Sturgis’ classic truck and a superhero themed float created by the Talkeetna bachelor’s where men in capes crowded below a glowing crystal Fortress of Solitude. Despite gusty winds and cold temperatures vehicles glowed with assorted decorations. Nagley’s sounded off it’s airhorn to prepared a large crowd of onlookers for the much anticipated caravan of holiday cheer.

Saturday was jam packed with events. There seemed hardly enough daylight to fully soak in the opportunities for holiday shopping among local gift shops and at the Elementary School’s Craft bizarre, speaking with authors at the book signing at the Historical Society, or spectating over 50 women competing in this years very popular Wilderness Woman Contest. Pam Rannals reminds us of the event’s origins.


Women competed in heats of three for over an hour in the qualifying round of the contest. In an event that was once characterized by local gals in oversized coveralls and bunny boots sloshing buckets in a controlled speed walk, this year the event was better characterized by what women from out-of-town weren’t wearing in competition. Event coordinator Todd Basilone explains.


Sports bras, skeleton costumes, beaver hats, tutus, and running shoes have become the new norm but seconds were what counted most as a large pool of women narrowed the large field down to just five. Next they made sandwiches and served a beer to a waiting bachelor before they pushed off to circle the village park by snowmachine. Tiffany Hall, from Anchorage, took the second heat with the fastest time even though she had never driven a snowmachine before.

The final event with just three contestants Tiffany, Rachel Kidwell, Kahlial Withen was a bit more involved.


Tiffany, the favorite based on her performance in the first two heats was outfished by her opponents. On fifth cast Todd Basilone tossed her a sympathy fish and told her to continue. The event was won easily by Kahial, from Virginia. Her cast was smooth, she needed no coaching to put on her snowshoes, and she shot her ptarmagian on her first try. How is it this Virginian woman beat out a field of Alaskans? And where were the Talkeetna women?


There is talk of running some kind boot camp next year to put the Talkeetna back in the Talkeetna Wilderness Woman Contest. Local ladies take heed.

1 Response to A flood of lights kicks off Winterfest, and Wilderness Women compete for glory in Talkeetna

  1. Laura

    Many, many women have competed over the years in the WW contest but my guess this year is that most of them were working the event or working the bachelor auction. There were also almost no local ladies in the audience but plenty of them at the door, on sound, lights, photography. Besides a lot of them haul water every other day of the week! 🙂