See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Heikinpäivä 2010: Hancock celebrates mid-winter

The bears that "roll over" in mid-winter lead the 2010 Heikinpäivä Parade on Quincy Street in Hancock on Saturday, Jan. 30. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

By Michele Bourdieu

HANCOCK -- Heikinpäivä 2010 attracted good crowds and what appeared to be a record number of Polar Bear divers. No less than 128 of them leaped into the icy water of the Portage Canal near Hancock's Ramada Inn.

This year's Heikinpäivä Polar Bear Dive attracted 128 intrepid divers and a crowd of spectators. (Video clips by Keweenaw Now)

The air temperature rose a few degrees into the double digits (maybe 13 degrees F) so Parade watchers didn't freeze quite so fast as in previous years.

Presiding over the Parade and other Heikinpäivä festivities was this year's Hankooki Heikki award winner, Melvin Kangas, a Suomi College graduate and a faculty member at the school for more than four decades.

Presiding over the 2010 Heikinpäivä festival, Melvin Kangas as Hankooki Heikki, dressed in his royal garb, rides in the reindeer sleigh during the parade.

After attending Suomi, Kangas received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan in music composition and won a Finlandia Foundation scholarship to attend Sibelius Academy in Finland, where he studied under Ulla Katajavuori, Finland’s foremost kantele player.

After many years as music director at Suomi College/ Finlandia University, Kangas now serves as adjunct associate professor of music, providing instruction on the kantele, the Finnish national instrument. Dozens of students through the years have benefited from his tutelage, not only in music but also in drama. Kangas has directed the Finlandia University fall play for many years, and several times he has opted for Finnish plays or productions (including some performed in the Finnish language) with distinct Finnish or Finnish-American themes.

In the Heikinpäivä Parade, Finnish Theme Committee representatives Debbie Kurtti, left, wearing a Finnish national costume and holding banner, and Glenn Tapio, far right, are followed by Barkell Elementary School second graders with their teacher Maija Stadius, behind banner.

Heikinpäivä is a Finnish-American festival created by the City of Hancock's Finnish Theme Committee, a group of community leaders charged with preserving Finnish heritage and utilizing Finnish themes for community development.

Hancock City Council members John Slivon, left, and Richard Freeman, second from left, and City Manager Glenn Anderson, second from right, participate in the Heikinpäivä Parade on Jan. 30, 2010.

State Rep. Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) was on hand for the parade and other festivities, accompanied by his granddaughter Ava Lahti, who was celebrating her fifth birthday. Mike joined other parade participants in tossing candy to children in the audience.

State Rep. Mike Lahti and his granddaughter Ava Lahti celebrate Ava's fifth birthday at the Heikinpäivä 2010 festival.

"This was an exceptional Heikinpäivä Parade," Lahti said. "I noticed the crowds are consistently larger. I almost ran out of candy!"

Following the parade, another favorite event, the Wife-carrying competition, provided entertainment for the crowd and challenges for the participants, who had to perform a series of traditional Finnish "skills" on the way to the "Finnish" line.

The Wife-carrying contestants first had to shake a typical Finnish rug to show their housekeeping skills. For some reason, only the "wives" chose to (?) perform this task.

Contestants Diane Miller of Houghton and Mark Janeczko of Harrison, Mich., fulfill the second Finnish "skill" in the Wife-carrying competition -- the sauna. Miller and Janeczko ended up winning the competition with a time of 33 seconds. At right, a young visitor enjoys a ride on a Finnish kicksled.

Contestants Christine Randell, left, wearing a Karelian folk costume, and her husband, Kent Randell (Finnish American Heritage Center archivist), wearing a Saami gakti, join "Champion Wife-Carrier" Glen Johnson and Kris Kyro Johnson, far right, for the third Finnish custom, a stop for coffee and gossip. Glen and Kris were the judges for the wife-carrying event.

No lingering at the café! Couldn't tell what the "wife" was yelling here, for lack of translation, but she managed to stay on hubby's back through the "Finnish" line.

While adults enjoyed outdoor competitions, kids had fun on the whipsled (Vipukelkka). In the background, parents and kids learn about the visiting reindeer.

The Tori, or market, has grown over the years and now has two locations -- the Finnish American Heritage Center and Hancock's First United Methodist Church. Community members sell and demonstrate handicrafts and sell food items while local musicians entertain.

Phyllis Fredendall, fiber artist and associate professor at Finlandia's International School of Art and Design, demonstrates weaving techniques at the Tori (market) in the First United Methodist Church.

Sandy Soring chats with a customer about her baskets during the Tori (market) in the Finnish American Heritage Center.

Jim Kurtti, Finnish American Heritage Center director, said visitors have a strong preference for Finnish items such as mojakka (stew) and karjalan piirakka (a Karelian "pasty," a rye crust with a rice porridge filling, topped with egg butter).

"At the Finnish Theme Committee's booth, the mojakka was sold out before 1 p.m.," Kurtti noted.

Meghan Pachmayer, left, and Anna Leppanen sell Finnish pastries at the Tori in the First United Methodist Church.

Items from Finland are also popular, Kurtti added. Finnish singer Tanja Stanaway successfully sold Finnish chocolate, coffee, licorice and pearl sugar.

At both Tori locations musicians, singers and dancers entertained most of the day.

The Finn Woods Ramblers play a popular schottische, "Osa Poika, Onni Poika" (The Lucky Boy), sung by Oren Tikkanen, left. Musicians also include, from left, Eleanor Taylor on accordion, Matt Durocher (behind Eleanor) on fretless bass guitar, Randy Seppala and Gail Braden on bones. Braden, who learned to play bones from the late Johnnie Perona and from Seppala, won the World Bones Championship in Ireland a few years ago.

Under the direction of Kay Seppala, the Kivajat dancers perform a Finnish folk dance. Kivajat traveled to Finland last summer to perform.

Dave Bezotte, at the keyboard, sings a French tune, accompanied by Oren Tikkanen, left, and Matt Durocher.

See more photos of Heikinpäivä 2010 in our slide show, above, right column.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

First Friday in Calumet offers art exhibits, music, benefit for Haiti

CALUMET -- First Friday in Calumet offers a variety of art exhibits and events as well as musical entertainment on Feb. 5.

Copper Country Associated Artists: Sketching with Clyde Mikkola

The First Friday Feature of the Copper Country Associated Artists Gallery (CCAA) on Friday, Feb. 5, will be sketching with member Clyde Mikkola.

The emphasis will be that drawing is learning to see with a pencil. This poses an interesting sketching question: Does the eye need the pencil or does the pencil need the eye? The instruction will be individualized and adapted to students' learning styles.

Mikkola graduated from the University of Michigan in 1976 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in painting. In school and afterwards he did much exploring and experimenting, trying a great variety of media and styles. In addition to creating his work, he has been teaching for many years in the Copper Country.

"Much to my surprise, I found depicting and interpreting the people and world around me to be the most fun," Mikkola says, "giving me the greatest challenge and satisfaction."

First Friday CCAA demonstrations are an opportunity to introduce visitors to a variety of arts and fine craft techniques by some of the area’s most talented practitioners.

The CCAA Gallery is located at 112 Fifth Street in Calumet. Winter Gallery hours are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. First Fridays, the Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information about the CCAA call 906-337-1252 or visit their web site at

Vertin Gallery: Stephanie Trevino

The February exhibit at the Vertin Gallery, "Dolls and Dress Up by Stephanie Trevino," opens with a reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5. The exhibit continues through March 3, 2010.

Stephanie Trevino is a self-taught photographer and studio arts student at Finlandia University. She shoots film and digital, though recently most of her work has been film-based, using an array of plastic, vintage and homemade pinhole cameras. She has lived in the Copper Country off and on all her life and currently resides in Hubbell, Mich.

The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. The Vertin Gallery's winter hours are Mon. - Sat., 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Miskwabik Ed Gray Gallery

An opening reception for the "Miniature Show" will be held from 6:30 - 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, at the Miskwabik Ed Gray Gallery, 109 Fifth St. in Calumet.

This is an all-media, juried open show.

Music by John Munson at Café After Hours

After the Gallery exhibits stop in at the Conglomerate Café, 104 Fifth St., to hear music by John Munson at the piano from 8 p.m. - 11 p.m. -- a new Friday feature. Wine, beer and tasty treats are available. The Conglomerate Café is open from 7 p.m. to midnight on Fridays.

Calumet Art Center benefit for Haiti

Remember to stop in at the Calumet Art Center Friday, Feb. 5, for music and art to benefit disaster relief efforts in Haiti. Click here for our previous article.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Finlandia's Reflection Gallery to host group exhibit Feb. 4-Mar. 2

An illustration by Rachel Reidenga from her book Welcome to My Kingdom. Reidenga hopes that those who view her illustrations will be transported back to the world of their own childhood fantasy adventures and boundless dreams. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK -- The work of four Finlandia University International School of Art and Design students is featured at Finlandia’s Reflection Gallery Feb. 4 to Mar. 2, 2010.

An opening reception and artist talks will take place from Noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, at Finlandia's Reflection Gallery, located in the Jutila Center. The reception is open to the public and all are welcome.

The group exhibit features book illustrations by Josh Jaehnig and Rachel Reidenga and photographs and paintings -- in an exhibit titled "But There is So Much to Climb!" -- by Sarah Anderson and Stephanie Trevino.

An illustration by Josh Jaehnig from his book Concerto No. 23. Jaehnig’s illustrations are partly created using a watercolor press technique -- painting on a hard surface and then pressing paper onto that surface.

Junior illustration major Josh Jaehnig is showing his illustrations for Concerto No. 23, a book about failing to appreciate the things that you have, almost to the point of not realizing they exist. Jaehnig explains that the book tells the story of a man who spends so much time practicing his own ways that he loses himself. In order to find himself again, the man must travel to the point of no return to discover everything that has been lost or missing.

Rachel Reidenga is a junior studying illustration at Finlandia. The Reflection Gallery exhibit features illustrations from her children’s book Welcome to my Kingdom, whose pages are full of colorful and playful skewed perspectives in ink and watercolor. The colorful images of the characters and landscapes in Reidenga’s book highlight the amazing ability of watercolor to create everything from the rigidity of rocks to the fluidity of water.

Reidenga describes her love for watercolor as, "a passion which resides in my ability to be precise yet spontaneous with the medium."

Senior illustration major Sarah Anderson and junior studio arts major Stephanie Trevino will show an exhibit they’ve titled, "But There is So Much to Climb!"

Photography by Stephanie Trevino, who is collaborating with senior illustration major Sarah Anderson in an exhibit titled, "But There is So Much to Climb!"

Anderson says the collaborative work is centered around a particular event, explaining that, "in our minds, events become polished and it is impossible for us to exactly re-live them. Some details are clear. Some are preserved in photographs and objects associated with the event. Some are only the memories of one person until their recollection is retold. The rest we make up a bit, we polish it, exaggerate and become nostalgic about it -- until finally, one day, that 4th of July evening, for example, becomes greater than it ever was. It becomes our very own epic tale."

In the exhibit, the women’s epic tale is retold through Anderson’s illustrations and Trevino’s photographs.

The Reflection Gallery is located on the second level of the Finlandia University Jutila Center campus. For additional information, contact Yueh-mei Cheng, associate professor of studio arts, at 906-487-7375 or

Kerredge Gallery February exhibit to feature work by Denise Vandeville

HANCOCK -- The February exhibit in the Community Arts Center’s Kerredge Gallery is "Dignity, an installation in clay, metal, wood and rock" by Denise Vandeville, dean of Finlandia University's International School of Art and Design.

Denise Vandeville, dean of Finlandia University's International School of Art and Design, is exhibiting her work in the Kerredge Gallery of the Community Arts Center in Hancock through February 27. Here she is pictured at a 2009 Finlandia Faculty Exhibit in the Finnish American Heritage Center. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

Vandeville received her Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics from The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Finlandia University. She was invited to Oxford University, England, in July 2008, to present her research on fractal geometry and aesthetic preference.

The public is invited to a Reception and Gallery Talk from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4. The exhibit continues through Feb. 27. The Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. For more information call (906) 482-2333.

Gospel music kicks off Black History Month at Michigan Tech

HOUGHTON -- Black History Month began on Feb. 1 with a kick-off event of gospel music at Michigan Tech, featuring the visiting Riverside University High School Gospel Choir from Milwaukee and Tech's own Praise in Effect Gospel Choir.

Diante M. Harris leads the Riverside University High School Gospel Choir in a concert held Feb. 1 in Michigan Tech's Memorial Union Ballroom. The group took a bus from Milwaukee to Houghton in order to join Michigan Tech's Praise in Effect Gospel Choir in a kick-off event for Black History Month. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Under the leadership and direction of Diante M. Harris, the energetic young singers from Milwaukee performed several gospel hymns as guests of the university and enjoyed a tour of the campus during their visit.

The Riverside University High School Gospel Choir, combined with its serious passion for singing Gospel Music, believes in speaking to spiritual and physical needs throughout their community and abroad. Through song, the choir works together to share a message of hope, outreach and service. The group also recently released their first CD, "God's Got It."

Michigan Tech's month-long 2010 Black History Month Celebration will include weekly lecture presentations; a library exhibit of Black Inventors and Entrepreneurs; an Open Mic Coffee House; the film Amazing Grace; a comedy show; discussions; and -- at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 22 -- An Evening with author Jabari Asim, author of The N Word and What Obama Means.

The celebration will conclude on Sunday, Feb. 28, with African Night: An African dinner will be served at 5 p.m. in the MUB Ballroom, to be followed, at 7 p.m. in the Rozsa, by an African Night Performance -- Africa: The Story from Within, featuring the Hayor Bibimma Dance Company and sponsored by the Michigan Tech African Students Organization.

Kevin J. Walker, Michigan Tech African-American Outreach coordinator, will offer a photo presentation, "Dispelling the Myths of Detroit," at Noon today, Wednesday, Feb. 3 in the MUB Alumni Lounge. This is the first in a series of Food for the Soul / Brown Bag Lunches being offered at Noon on Wednesdays this month.

Watch for more updates on the Black History Month events. Click here for the schedule.

Calumet Art Center to host Fundraiser for Haitian Disaster Relief Feb. 5

CALUMET -- The Calumet Art Center will host a special First Friday in Calumet Fundraiser for Haitian Disaster Relief from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5.

In partnership with the American Red Cross and the Copper Country Associated Artists, the Center invites the public to enjoy musical entertainment by Dave Morehouse and artist demonstrations.

Musician Dave Morehouse, pictured here during the November 2009 exhibit at the Ed Gray Gallery, will provide musical entertainment at the Calumet Art Center's Fundraiser for Haitian Disaster Relief from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

All proceeds will benefit the American Red Cross Haitian Disaster Relief Efforts. If you cannot attend but would like to donate, please send a check, payable to the American Red Cross, to Calumet Art Center, P.O. Box 7, Calumet, MI 49913.

The Calumet Art Center is at 57055 Fifth St., Calumet. Call 906-281-3494 for more information.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Video: Protect Salmon Trout River, Coaster Brook Trout, water resources from sulfide mining

MARQUETTE -- recently posted a video, "There Is No Pure Michigan Without Pure Water," featuring the Salmon Trout River and its Coaster Brook Trout, which will be in danger of acid mine drainage pollution from the potential Eagle Project sulfide mine on the Yellow Dog Plains near Marquette.

Check out this video for some convincing visual and verbal arguments for protecting this scenic recreation and wilderness area. Speaking on the video are Cynthia Pryor, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve Sulfide Mining Campaign director; Casey Huckins, associate professor in Biological Sciences at Michigan Tech University; and Michelle Halley, National Wildlife Federation attorney.

In addition to great shots of the river, Coaster Brook Trout, wetlands and forest, the You Tube video, just under 10 minutes long, includes maps showing the many areas in the Upper Peninsula now under exploration for mining as well as an explanation of the purpose of the proposed Michigan ballot initiative -- not meant to ban mining but to require mining companies to prove they have done this sort of mining safely in the past and to provide a buffer around surface water.

Click here to watch the video on You Tube.

Monday, February 01, 2010

State Rep. Mike Lahti receives Legislator of the Year award

LANSING -- The Michigan Township Association (MTA) awarded State Representative Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) their 2009 Legislator of the Year award at the 56th Annual Educational Conference and Expo at the DeVos Center, in Grand Rapids. Rep. Lahti received the award in front of over a thousand township officials, legislators, vendors and guests at the Association’s Annual Banquet on Thursday, Jan. 28.

In 2006, Lahti was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. He represents the 110th House District, which is located in the Western Upper Peninsula (Powell Township in Marquette, Keweenaw, Houghton, Ontonagon, Gogebic, Iron and Baraga counties). Lahti is a member of the Appropriations Committee, where he is Chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee. He also sits on the Corrections Subcommittee, General Government Subcommittee and Joint Capital Outlay Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee.

"Since coming to Lansing, Rep. Lahti’s priorities have included creating good-paying jobs for Michigan workers, expanding educational opportunities for all residents and protecting the Great Lakes and Michigan’s natural resources," said David Bertam, a Legislative Liaison/Team Leader for MTA. "These factors made Lahti a natural choice for our 2009 Legislator of the Year award."

Raised in Hancock, Mike is married to Sharon, also of Hancock. They have six children and nine grandchildren.

Sons of Norway Barneløpet Ski Race to be Feb. 7 at Maasto Hiihto Trails

HANCOCK -- The Sons of Norway Ulseth Lodge 5-670 invites area youth and their families to the 3rd annual Barneløpet* Cross-Country Ski Race from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010, at the Maasto Hiihto cross-country ski trails, Hancock.

Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC) and Sons of Norway representatives participate in the recent Heikinpäivä Parade, with banners announcing the coming Barneløpet, or "children's race" for youth and their families, to be held at the Maasto Hiihto ski trails on Sunday, Feb. 7. Carrying the KNSC banner in the foreground are Jay Green, left, and Sandy Aronson. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

The Barneløpet, a Norwegian word meaning "the children’s race," is open to youth ages three through 17 and their families. The event is sponsored by Sons of Norway, Portage Health, the City of Hancock and the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC).

The non-competitive family ski race is free this year, with a suggested free-will donation of $3.00 per skier or $5.00 per family. Registration begins at 1 p.m. at the ski chalet. Ski start times are from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Parents are encouraged to ski with their children if they wish.

"This is a special day for youth and their families to spend some time skiing and having fun together," says Wayne Stordahl, president of the local chapter of Sons of Norway. "Cross-country skiing is a popular family activity in Norway and we want to encourage that here, too."

Stordahl adds that a second reason for hosting the Barneløpet is to spotlight the great cross-country trails in Hancock. He says that the KNSC maintains and grooms over 26 kilometers of "striding" ski trails, with financial assistance from the City of Hancock.

Skiers head for the finish line during the 2009 Annual Barneløpet Cross Country Ski Race at Maasto Hiihto Trails in Hancock. Click here for our slide show of last year's Barneløpet.

The KNSC will groom four courses for the event. Relatively easy one-, two-, and four-kilometer courses will be open, as well as a more difficult six-kilometer course, which descends into the gorge and follows the stream. Skiers can "stride" any of the four courses, and a large time clock will be running for those who wish to time themselves.

All youth who finish their course will be awarded a colorful Norwegian Olympic-style enameled medallion. Skiers will also be treated to cookies and hot chocolate or coffee.

A Barneløpet registration form can be downloaded at

For additional information, contact Wayne Stordahl at 906-482-0292.

Visit for more information about the local chapter of Sons of Norway.

Sons of Norway is an international organization promoting Norwegian traditions, fraternal fellowship and cultural learning in the United States, Canada and Norway. Local Sons of Norway lodge activities may include language camps, scholarships, handcrafts, cooking and cultural classes, heritage and sports awards programs, travel opportunities and the monthly Viking magazine. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., Sons of Norway was founded in 1895.

*Pronunciation guide: Barneløpet = bar NEE lop it