Saturday, January 17, 2009

Local Democrats offer after-dinner tickets for Inaugural Ball Jan. 17 at MTU

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's College Dems and the Houghton County Dems invite those who did not get tickets to the Inaugural Ball tonight, Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Memorial Union Ballroom, to join the celebration after dinner for a $5 admission at the door.

Unfortunately, tickets to the dinner portion of the event are no longer available.

There will be a short celebration program at 8 p.m. followed by dancing to music by Uncle Pete's Allstar BBQ Blues Band from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. A cash bar is available to persons with proper ID showing proof of at least age 21 years of age. Music-only tickets can be purchased at the door beginning at 7:45 p.m.

Friday, January 16, 2009

State Rep. Mike Lahti sworn in to second term

LANSING -- State Representative Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) was sworn in to his second term in the Michigan House of Representatives during a ceremony on Jan. 14, 2009, at the State Capitol marking the beginning of the 95th Legislature. The Clerk of the House of Representatives, Richard Brown, administered the oath of office to Lahti.

"I am excited to continue serving the 110th District in the Michigan House of Representatives," Lahti said. "I will continue to focus on creating and protecting jobs for families in the Upper Peninsula, as well as creating a more favorable business climate in Michigan so small businesses can grow and prosper in our state."

Lahti noted the importance of working with new and emerging companies from within Michigan, attracting businesses from outside the state and strengthening our schools to build the world-class workforce we need to turn the economy around.

After the ceremony, Lahti and his colleagues went to work immediately by introducing the Hire Michigan First plan, which will ensure that Michigan workers get the first chance at jobs created by companies that benefit from state economic development programs or tax breaks.

Constituents can contact Rep. Lahti’s office in Lansing as follows:

Email: mikelahti@house.mi.gov

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909-7514

Phone: (517) 373-0850 or Toll-Free: (888) 663-4031
Fax: (517) 373-9303

For more information about the Michigan Legislature visit Rep. Lahti’s Web site:
http://www.110.housedems.com.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Kay Seppälä to reign as Hankooki Heikki during 2009 Heikinpäivä events

HANCOCK — Though she’s a familiar face on stage with her Kivajat youth dancers, Kay Seppälä has been honored by the City of Hancock’s Finnish Theme Committee for her work behind the scenes as well.

In the Finlandia Gallery at the Finnish American Heritage Center, Kay Seppälä, right, directs her Kivajat Dancers, during a previous Heikinpäivä celebration. Click on photos for larger versions. (Keweenaw Now file photo © 2007 Michele Bourdieu)

Seppälä, an Ontonagon native who now lives in Chassell, has received the 2009 Hankooki Heikki honor, which the committee bestows each year on a person whose commitment to preserving and promoting Finnish culture in the area goes above and beyond "normal" efforts. The honoree presides over the Heikinpäivä festivities, wearing the crown and robe that come with the honor.

Seppälä said her Finnish cultural interests are an "identity." She grew up in a home where Finnish accordion music was often playing.

"My father loved that," she noted. "My parents taught me to dance .... My grandparents would be honored (that I’m) emphasizing that which is good of the Finnish culture."

Oren Tikkanen, musician and storyteller, reigns as Hankooki Heikki during the 2008 Heikinpäivä parade. (Photo © 2008 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Seppälä is best known for leading the Kivajat Dancers, a Finnish folk dancing youth group. She also teaches kantele courses to the local community and actively supports other Finnish cultural activities in the area. She’s quick to point out, though, that what she’s doing is simply reciprocating the work that others did for her; she listed many names of folks who spent countless hours teaching her kantele, dance and other cultural activities.

"I don’t do this in a vacuum," she said. "What I do is honoring those who’ve shared their time and talents with me."

At the 2008 Heikinpäivä Tori, musician John Perona adds some of his percussionist talents to the musical entertainment. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

The festival over which Seppälä will "preside" will include many people sharing their time and talents, including some who’ll be making their first appearance at the decade-old event.

Heikinpäivä -- Hancock's annual mid-winter festival -- is set for Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009, with events throughout the week leading up to the primary festival day, as well as the days immediately following.

This week the 7th annual Club Finndigo, sponsored by the MuBeta Psi music fraternity, will celebrate the occasion with a dinner and movie, Friday, Jan. 16, at the Calumet Theatre. The movie is "Poika ja Ilves" ("The Boy and the Lynx") -- winner of numerous international awards -- the story of a boy, a village, and a captive lynx, all in a magical Lapland setting. The movie begins at 7:15 p.m, preceded at 6 p.m. by a grand buffet of Finnish/American delicacies created by chef Eric Karvonen and his MTU Dining Service staff.

Cost for both food and film is $17 --movie alone, $5. Children for this all-family event, are half fare. For the buffet, call the theatre at least a day in advance to assure seating: 337-2610.

On Monday, Jan. 19, festival attendees can immerse themselves in a variety of Finnish culture, as classes in leipäjuusto (squeaky cheese) making, fan bird carving and tatting will all take place at Zion Lutheran Church.

Reindeer participate in the 2008 Heikinpäivä parade on Quincy Street in Hancock. (Photo © 2008 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Even the Finlandia University Gallery at the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC) has "Finnish fever" during Heikinpäivä week with two new events. An opening reception for Carl Gawboy's "Transforming the Cutover" will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22. Gawboy's reception coincides with one of this year’s new additions: Indigenous Night, featuring Sámi presentations, will begin at 6 p.m. the same night at the FAHC. Featuring Sámi experts Faith Fjeld and Nathan Muus, along with Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Drum Circle members, Indigenous Night is focused around the exhibit "The Sami: Reindeer People of Alaska" that will be at the FAHC during that time. This special event is funded by grants from Finlandia Foundation National and Suomi Seura.

The vipukelkka (whipsled) is a favorite activity for kids during Heikinpäivä. (Photo © 2008 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Reindeer won’t only be indoors. Following a tradition, on Saturday, Jan. 24 (the festival’s primary day), a reindeer encampment will be part of Heikki’s Fun Park on the Hancock Middle School lawn. Events will include a vipukelkka (whipsled), potkukelkka (kicksled), Sámi lavvus, Finnish games and the ever-popular wife-carrying and boot-throwing contests.

Wife-carrier approaches the finish line during the 2008 Heikinpäivä competition near Hancock Middle School. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

The day also includes three tori sites sure to suit any shopper. Vendors will be set up at both the FAHC and the nearby United Methodist Church. These activities get under way at 10 a.m. Later that day, two regular favorites will return -- the Polar Bear Dive at the Ramada Inn waterfront and the Finnish banquet and dance at Finlandia Hall.

State Representative Mike Lahti, right, Finlandia University President Philip Johnson and his wife Renée enjoy some warm-up time at the 2008 Heikinpäivä Tori in Hancock's United Methodist Church. (Photo © 2008 Gustavo Bourdieu)

The festival doesn’t end when the last dance note is played, though. New this year will be a festival concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock. The concert will feature kantele master Wilho Saari, Nathan Muus and others. Saari will also be leading a master kantele workshop at 5:30 p.m on Friday, Jan. 23, at the FAHC. Some kanteles will be available for use.

For more information about any aspect of Heikinpäivä, please call (906) 487-7505 or visit the Heikinpäivä Web site.