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Local women battle in annual Backwoods Girl Competition

Posted: August 20, 2012 - 8:29am
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Dan Schwartz
D’Anna Gibson, of Soldotna, carries a bucket of water and a baby along a serpentine line during the Backwoods Girl Competition on Saturday in Ninilchik. Competitors raced to haul and stack firewood, carry a 5-gallon pail of water without spilling, fry an egg without breaking the yolk, and start a fire with one match and keep it burning for 60 seconds, all while carrying a baby-sized doll on one hip.

D’Anna Gibson, of Soldotna, broke her yoke flipping her egg. 

But, despite the spilt yoke, she completed the five trials of the Backwoods Girl Competition in three minutes and 20 seconds, the Kenai Peninsula Fair’s fastest time this year.

This won her “Wild Thing,” the first-place prize, a chainsaw.

“Believe it or not, I’m a little nervous, which is really silly because it doesn’t seem that hard,” Gibson said waiting in line before the competition kicked off.

“I think I’m more worried about the egg — trying to flip the egg without a spatula,” she said. “That’s hard.”

The eight competitors had to stack two arm-loads of wood, fry an egg over-easy, lug five gallons of water down a meandering orange line and light a fire that burns for a minute — all while carrying a baby.

Of course, the baby was not real, but it did cry when the competitors neglected it. The only way to quiet it — short of pulling out its batteries — was to rock it.

“What was really interesting to me is not one of them handed the baby off, and most moms will hand the baby to someone to care for,” Fairgrounds Coordinator Lara McGinnis said. “And if you watched, they almost all did everything in the same order.”

Last year the competition was rained out, McGinnis said, so running it this year was a treat, despite the drizzle and grey sky.

“The (most fun) part was having the whole Linderman family,” McGinnis said. “They’re several generation of long-term fair-goers.”

From the two bleachers, packed with about 20 people, Lindermans goaded Gibson when she ran through the trials. 

“The kids are hungry,” one said.

“Feed us,” another said.

When Gibson’s daughter, Kailey Mucha started her turn, Gibson had fun from the bleachers, too.

“Come on, the baby’s crying,” her mom said as Mucha put the baby down to stack firewood. “I’d never let you cry like that.”

The audience laughed.

After Mucha carried her water to the fire pit, she cracked her egg into the skillet, trying to subdue the crying baby.

“I can’t tell if they’re cheering her on or if they’re egging her on,” McGinnis said through her microphone.

When she flipped her egg, it broke, deducting her points.

But she recovered when she started her fire with one match. 

“It was awesome. It was awesome,” McGinnis said about the competition. “We were excited. It was in a new location and I think we had a great turn out.”


Dan Schwartz can be reached at 

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