Kay Seppala reigns as 2009 "Hankooki Heikki," riding in the reindeer sleigh during last year's Heikinpäivä Parade. Click on photos for larger versions. (2009 Photos by Keweenaw Now)
HANCOCK -- Heikinpäivä, Hancock's mid-winter festival, will offer events the whole family this weekend, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 29-30.
Melvin Kangas is the 2010 festival's "Hankooki Heikki," who will preside over the festivities, wearing the crown and robe that come with the honor. Each year, the Finnish Theme Committee selects, as "Hankooki Heikki," one person whose work toward preserving and promoting Finnish culture in the area goes above and beyond "normal" efforts.
Longtime Finlandia University (Suomi College) music professor and theater director Melvin Kangas' contributions to Copper Country Finnish-American culture aren't limited to the campus. A master kantele player, he has performed at countless weddings, funerals and other events. Many of the plays he's directed have had a Finnish connection, including his most recent production, which he translated from the original Finnish.
Pictured here with her husband, Hal Seppälä, 2009 Hankooki Heikki Kay Seppälä is most recognized for her efforts leading the youth dance group Kivajat. Kay also offers kantele lessons and has taught dance for adults with her husband, Hal. The Kivajat traveled to Finland in the summer of 2009.
Here's the schedule for this weekend:
Friday, Jan. 29
6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. -- Club Finndigo, all-Finnish dinner/movie featuring Mother of Mine, a story about a boy shunted from a Finnish home to one in Sweden during the war with Russia. Calumet Theater. Dinner and film - $16; Movie only: $5. For information, call (906) 337-2166.
6 p.m. -- Tango Lessons by Ralph Tuttila, Range Lounge, South Range, Mich.
7:30 p.m. -- Karhun Tanssi - The Bear Dance - old style Finnish ballroom dancing, featuring Finn Hall Band, Range Lounge, South Range, Mich.
Saturday Jan. 30
10 a.m. - 3 p.m. -- Tori Market, Finnish American Heritage Center and First United Methodist Church. Featuring ethnic crafts, foods and Finnish items. There will be live music throughout the day at both sites. Click here for the music schedule and details.
The Tori Market in Hancock's First United Methodist Church offers ethnic food, including a tempting array of Finnish goodies.
10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Family Fun Day -- Vipukelkka - Whipsled, Hancock Middle School lawn.
The Vipukelkka -- Whipsled -- is a favorite Finnish tradition for kids.
Demonstrations (dog sleds, kicksleds, etc.)
11 a.m. Parade, downtown Hancock. Line up at BRIDGE School at 10:30 a.m. Prizes.
Barkell Elementary second graders, proudly wearing Finnish hats with Hancock colors, march in the 2009 Heikinpäivä parade.
Immediately following parade -- Boot-throwing and Wife-carrying contests, Hancock Middle School lawn. Prizes.
The Wife-carrying competition is a great Finnish tradition.
1 p.m. -- Himmeli-making workshop with Ernst Hensersky, Finnish American Heritage Center archive reading room, Hancock. $10 registration. To register, call (906) 487-7505.
2:30 p.m. -- Bones workshop, First United Methodist Church, Hancock. $2 fee. Bones provided. To register, call (906) 487-7505
3 p.m. -- Polar Bear Dive, Hancock waterfront, near Ramada Inn.
The Polar Bear Dive is always a crowd-pleaser. As for the participants ...Brrr! (File videoclip by Keweenaw Now)
6 p.m. -- Seisovapöytä (Finnish buffet), tickets $16 each, Finlandia Hall, Finlandia University. Silent auction during the banquet.
8 p.m. -- Tanssit (Dance), Finlandia Hall. Pasi Cats to perform. Dance-only tickets: $5.
For more information about Heikinpäivä, visit their Web site.