The Flying Femmes were a group of women who in the late 1970’s earned membership into their club by trail-touring on snowmobile. Two Eagle River women, Sally Ayers and Joyce Roxbury, were avid snowmobilers and founded the group. In February 1978 Sally and Joyce got the idea to take a 307-mile, two day tour on snowmobile, without their husbands. Word spread of their ride and all the fun they had. They were joined the following year by fellow snowmobiler, Dorothy Deer, and toured the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for 376 miles in three days. Thus, the annual tradition of the ladies’ snowmobile tour was born!
Each year, more and more women joined the women riders. By 1982, there were 11 members who rode with roses and special graphics on their helmets so that other snowmobilers passing them on the trail would know that they were women. A support vehicle driven by women, of course, was added to their traveling entourage. Finally, in 1984, the Flying Femmes went on their dream tour– a 1200 mile, six day tour to Brainerd, Minnesota and back.
The following year, the Flying Femmes had the idea to organize a snowmobiling weekend for women only and call it “Women on Snow.” The first Women on Snow event was held January 30 to February 2, 1986 at the Chanticleer Inn and was hosted by the members of “Eagle River’s Noted Women’s Touring Group.” Ninety-seven women participated in what was to become an annual event in Eagle River, Wisconsin.
The women toured the beautiful trails of Vilas and Oneida Counties Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning, making various pit stops for meals and refreshments along the way. The weekend event ended with an elaborate brunch, fond farewells, and promises to return next year. The following year, the Flying Femmes invited past participants to join them in a 300-mile, three day tour preceding the weekend event. In subsequent years, the tour was changed to follow the weekend event. Throughout the years, the Eagle River Inn, the Days Inn, and the Wild Eagle Lodge have also served as the host resort for the weekend event. Women on Snow and the Flying Femmes are showcased in the World Snowmobile Headquarters museum in Eagle River.
Women of all ages still come to Wisconsin’s Northwoods during the last weekend in January for Women on Snow. It has become an Eagle River tradition.