In the early 1980s, the Hancock City Council appointed 12 residents to the city’s new Finnish Theme Committee, a group that was directed to preserve Finnish heritage and utilize Finnish themes for community development. The committee worked to develop a sister-city relationship with Porvoo, Finland, display Finnish flags and bilingual street signs along the city’s main street, gave recreational areas new Finnish names and encouraged businesses to adopt a Finnish flavor.
These endeavors were the committee’s primary tangible efforts until 1999, when the group created Heikinpäivä, a mid-winter celebration of ethnic identity. Since its inception, the festival has grown into one of the region’s largest winter events. Each year features a wide variety of Finnish crafts, food and entertainment and draws attendance from throughout the Midwest. Along with the planning and execution of Heikinpäivä each winter, several committee members are working to promote Finnish culture in the area. One committee member teaches a youth folk-dance class, another is a second-grade teacher who includes a section about Finland in each year’s lesson plan. Each of these groups show what they’ve learned to the community during Heikinpäivä each year.
At the conclusion of Heikinpäivä 2006, the committee announced its affiliation with Finlandia Foundation, becoming the City of Hancock’s Finnish Theme Committee – Finlandia Foundation Copper Country chapter. The Finnish Theme Committee welcomes new members at any time of the year. To learn more, or to join, call (906) 482-0248. For more about Finlandia Foundation, visit the organization’s Web site HERE