Finn Fun Day staged

Aaren Joki of Metsami Creations plays his Jouhikko, a Finnish instrument, at the ninth annual Finn Fun Day. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

MARQUETTE — Finns from around the Upper Peninsula gathered at Negaunee Township Hall on Saturday to enjoy traditional Finnish food and entertainment at the ninth annual Finn Fun Day.

The event is hosted by the U.P. Chapter of the League of Finnish American Societies whose goal is to promote and preserve the Finnish heritage, said chapter president Ronald Hill.

“The Finnish population in Marquette County and the Upper Peninsula is one of the highest percentages of Finnish population anywhere in the United States,” Hill said. “I grew up in a Finnish community and some of the traditions that we’re trying to continue are just such memorable events — we’d like to make sure they don’t totally die out.”

These traditions included music played on Finnish instruments such as a Jouhikko, Finnish storytelling through wood burning designs, and traditional food such as Pikkupulla, a bread spiced with cardamom, all of which could be found at the event.

Other festivities included performances of traditional music; presentations from Finns Pauliina Lehto and Anni Arvio on their first few months in the United States, a 50/50 raffle; and vendors selling Finnish goodies such as breads, jams and hand-knit goods.

Vendor and performer at the event, Tanja Stanaway, right, sells handmade jams, sweets and knit items to event goer Wendy Champion. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

Genealogical researcher Gloria Alexander also attended the event and provided Finns with the resources to research their family history.

“I think when people immigrated they didn’t carry a lot of that information over and so now you have a lot of Finnish-Americans who don’t know a lot about their heritage and they don’t know where to start,” Alexander said.

Alexander enjoys helping others piece together their genealogy, because it’s an avenue to not only find out more about themselves, but to relate to others with common heritages and interests, just like Finn Fun day.

“It gives an opportunity for Finnish people to gather that they wouldn’t normally have and then we can share the stories and a little bit of that Finnish culture that we don’t have here in the U.S. unless you go to Finland,” Alexander said.

To celebrate a decade of Finn Fun Days, next year’s celebration will surely include even more Finn festivities, Hill added.