Since the very beginning of the Finns arriving in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula the summer celebration of Juhannus has been a big part the experience, and this year the Keweenaw is taking that experience to a whole different level thanks to the effort of the staff at the Finnish American Heritage Center. A full dive into this year’s event is the feature of this week’s Finlandia Fridays featuring Director of the Finnish American Heritage Center Jim Kurtti.
“It’s something that’s very authentically been celebrated here since the Finns arrived,” Kurtti said. “This year we’re blowing it out of the water.” That will include incredible events all over the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. “We’re going to a lot of, well aside from Hancock, some really, really small communities. We’re going to be teaching a lot of our local community about being tourists in your own community.”
Juhannus at Hanka Heritage Day
The event will kick off Friday, June 23 at the Hanka Homestead in nearby Askel, which Kurtti called “a hidden gem.” It’s a traditional Finnish homestead that will be featured heavily in the fall when Antti Holma and his crew tell the story of their visit. In this episode of Finlandia Fridays Kurtti tells a little about the story of their visit that chilly March day. Events are scheduled from 1 to 8 p.m. that day at the homestead.
Traveling Sauna and more at Finnish American Heritage Center
Saturday mornings festivities will kick off at the Finnish American Heritage Center, which offers a slew of classes, events and of course the Finnish American Archives, which Kurtti called “the biggest and oldest collection of Finnish American materials anywhere.” This portion of the event will include a visit by the traveling sauna, the tori and more in downtown Hancock.
Juhannus Kokko at Agate Beach
One of the most visually stunning and oldest celebrations in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula is the Juhannus celebration at beautiful Agate Beach on Saturday night of the busy weekend. “It’s such a laid-back event,” Kurtti said. “This year, though, we’re telling everyone.” There will be food, dancing, live music and of course the Juhannus Kokko! Kokko is Finnish for a bonfire. “The one we have here is larger than most that they have in Finland,” Kurtti said. The annual celebration in Toivola has been held annually since the 1890s.
Centennial celebration of Finnish cooperative in Bruce Crossing
The final event of Juhannus will be on Sunday as the crowd moves to beautiful Bruce Crossing to join in the centennial celebration of Settlers’ Co-op. “It’s one of just a few remaining Finnish cooperatives,” Kurtti said after describing life in the Midwest a century ago where hundreds of similar cooperatives existed. There are now only four other similar institutions. This event will feature live music, the traveling sauna and the world premiere of Kristin Ojaniemi’s documentary of the Settlers’ Co-Op.
Full details on Junannus Summer’s Eve celebration
Everything you need to know about the big weekend can be found at finlandia.edu/juhannus. “Juhannus might be a great opportunity for you to get out and see some of the sights right in their most exciting atmosphere,” host of Finlandia Fridays Michael H. Babcock said. Most of these events are also free and open to the public, making it a great event to take the entire family to.
Purchase your Juhannus apparel
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A full archive of all Finlandia Fridays episodes can be found at finlandia.edu/fridays.Tags: Agate Beach, Askel, Bruce Crossing, Finlandia Fridays, Finnish American Heritage Center, Hanka Homestead, Jim Kurtti, Juhannus, kokko, Settlers' Coop, tori, Traveling Sauna