Coming up: The Talkeetna Bachelors Auction and Wilderness Woman Competition.

IMG_3567I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Come up and join us at the Talkeetna Bachelors Auction and Wilderness Woman Competition and you’ll dine out on those stories for years.

True, it’ll be winter* — Dec. 7, to be exact — and that means it’ll probably be cold. But that’s the whole point! You’ll be in Alaska in the winter.

You’ll survive. I promise. There’s a bonfire at which to warm yourself during the competition, and the auction and after-party are actually pretty warm due to the hootin’, hollerin’ and dancin’.

Besides, Talkeetna has a doctor.

I wanted to link to my first-ever article about Talkeetna, published in 2010, but my site was migrated to a new server and that first piece doesn’t seem to have made the jump from hyperspace. So I’m excerpting from that piece to explain the absolute hilarity of the event:

On a dark winter night in 1981, regulars at the Fairview Inn in Talkeetna, Alaska, looked around and realized that every single person in the room could pee standing up.

Where were all the women? Someplace else! So the town’s bachelors decided to throw an irresistible party.

Thus was born the Talkeetna Bachelor Auction and Wilderness Woman Competition, a double-barreled event designed to bring women to the snowy confines of this small town near Mt. McKinley. It’s one of several Alaska places purported to have inspired the town in “Northern Exposure,” but it’s best known as the jumping-off place for climbers who want to tackle the mountain.

When I lived in Alaska my friend Linda Billington and I always used to attend, both to celebrate my birthday and to have a screamingly good time. “Screaming” is the word: The kind of whooping and hollering that goes on during the auction used to make the Log Cabin VFW shiver – and it really is made of logs. These days the event takes place at the Sheldon Arts Hangar, which allows for more women to attend.

And they should. Ladies: You may never again feel this universally desired. The local bachelors wait all year for this and are determined to show female visitors a good time. Your dance card will be as full as you want it to be.

And yeah, what happens in Talkeetna stays in Talkeetna.

Bunk with the blogger

Linda and I usually go up on Friday afternoon and return after breakfast on Sunday. We rent the entire top floor of the Latitude 62 hotel, a very basic establishment with a bar and restaurant, and we’d be up for splitting the cost with roommates. The earlier you signed on, the more likely you’d get a real bed vs. a rollaway or the couchlike things in the middle room. (Actually, I’m willing to sleep just about anywhere that’s flat, so I’d be willing to cede a bed to a visitor from Outside.)

There are technically nicer places to stay, but we like the Latitude – the food is good and the conversation is better, and the hotel has its own dog you can go downstairs to pet.

Believe me when I say “very basic.” The rooms don’t have TVs or telephones. But what do you need those things for? You’ll keep plenty busy on Saturday during the morning and afternoon, and you’ll want a nap before the auction and dance.

Think of it: Alaska in December! On purpose! The moose, the northern lights, the potential for a sled-dog ride or a flight-see of Denali (the local name for McKinley)….

And, of course, the men. That’s another reason to come up on Friday: You can hit the Latitude and other local watering holes to preview the XY pulchritude that will be up for grabs at the auction.

The odds are good…

Anyone can enter the Wilderness Woman Competition. It’s a jokey race to do tasks such as driving a snowmachine (they’ll teach you), carrying water, shooting a moose (a guy in costume, who dies most dramatically when you nail him with a paintball gun), loading firewood, snagging Styrofoam salmon, and bringing a sandwich and beer to a griping bachelor.

(Most of the food and beverage lands on the bachelor, to the delight of the spectators. They’ve taken to swathing the guy in Visqueen.)

At the Saturday night auction, women will find out if they won. They’ll also be able to bid for the attentions of the Talkeetna men, some of whom clean up real nice and some of whom, well, don’t. There’s a reason for that old saying about the more-men-than-women ratio: “The odds are good – but the goods are odd.”

Incidentally, both the competition and the auction are absolutely all in fun. The money raised supports several local charities.

Talkeetna is a real Alaska experience, but an accessible one: Fly to Anchorage on Friday and rent a car. Talkeetna is about 115 miles north of Anchorage.

Nervous about driving on snow? They do plow. Honest! But you can also stay the night in Anchorage and get up hecka early to catch the morning northbound train on the Alaska Railroad. That will set you back $76 each way, but it’s a gorgeous ride and, more to the point, the bachelors meet the train with love and longing in their eyes.

Like I said: You may never feel this fabulous again. (And you may be able to catch a ride back to Anchorage with someone else who’s going that way — especially if you offer to chip in for gas.)

Interested? E-mail me with any questions at SurvivingAndThriving (at) live (dot) com. I’m serious about the roommate thing, too. Linda’s already rented the top floor, and that dog downstairs is waiting to be petted. So are the bachelors.

Read more about this event at:

*Yes, I know it isn’t actually winter on Dec. 7. But it sure feels like it.

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  1. That event is on my bucket list, for sure. I’ve only been to Talkeetna once, but it is one of my favorite places.

    I hear that Mayor Stubbs is contemplating retirement after his accident/attack, though. I hope that he is able to spend his remaining live(s) in comfort.

    Have fun at the event!

    • Donna Freedman

      Not sure which life Stubbs is on, but I bet he’s used up a few already. Apparently he’s doing pretty well. I’m looking forward to petting him when we stop in at the store. (Hot chocolate is a welcome treat midway through the competition.)
      Hope to see you there some day. There’s always room for another on the top floor of the Latitude.

  2. I’ve been watching old episodes of Northern Exposure and I recently learned that Talkeetna is the inspiration for the fictional town of Cecily, which isn’t surprising from your descriptions of it.

    So I laughed when you wrote “Talkeetna has a doctor”.

    I would love to join you some year, but it’s probably not in the cards for this year. I’ll live vicariously through your tweets.

  3. I would be leery of any man who was interested in me, barely able to walk. This sounds like fun, but maybe if I ever have back surgery. Someday!

    And, this is okay with DF?

  4. Reta Davis

    I remember how fun the original story was. Unforgettable good times!

  5. Thanks for another interesting article. I swear….I haven’t heard the term “visqueen” in over 20 years. My “Dear Uncle Ken” introduced me to the term over 40 years ago. Maybe it’s an Alaskan term as he spent a good bit of time in Alaska in the construction biz and termed his time there… as “the best time of my life”. Of course this was back in the 60’s when things were a bit shall we say…”rustic” and he often spoke fondly of Juno…the “big city” in Alaska. Thanks again for the article.

  6. It sounds like a blast and I would be there in the blink of an eye if I weren’t 64 and married. 😉

    And, Jack, hubby and I still call that stuff “visqueen”. Did we miss a cultural change or something?

    • Hi Anne…we must have. In my neck of the woods they just call it “6 mil plastic”. Last time I ask for “visqueen” at Home Depot the guy thought I was ordering lunch…LOL..

    • Donna Freedman

      Hey, my friend Linda B. is almost 70 and she’s one of the wildest wimmen I know — and I’m in a loving relationship but I still go up for the party. You’d be welcome to join us any time. After all, somebody has to stay sober enough to talk to the state troopers. 😉

      • There ya go Anne….that’s quite an invite from Donna. Of course if you took hubby along he could be the “designated driver” and you could woop it up with the gals!

      • Loved that. The nicest invitation I ever got. 😉

  7. Sorry, Donna, I just can’t make it this year, either. Dangit! One of the Decembers…you just wait.

    • Donna Freedman

      We will wait! And as Tom Bodett says, we’ll leave the light on for you.

  8. Loraine Allison

    I have a brother who has lived in Ester Alaska for at least 30 years and I have never been to see him. What a shame! O

    • Donna Freedman

      Hey, those Ester gals kick butt in the competition!
      Start planning your mini-family reunion now…maybe you could make it up next year if not this one.


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