A sea of purple and green. The smell of mojakka in the air. It could mean only one thing – St. Urho’s Day is here! As almost everyone knows, St. Urho, using a pitchfork, drove the grasshoppers out of Finland, thus saving the grape crop. The grasshoppers were much larger at that time in history, before the last ice age. At least the ones in Finland were.
On Monday, March 14, 2016, St. Urho and his lovely wife, the Grape Princess, visited the Finnish Heritage Museum during its monthly meeting in Fairport Harbor, Ohio. They must have heard about the celebration being held there, and the feast being offered. Members Anne Pohto, Veikko Malkamäki, and Dennis Mackey provided three different versions of Mojakka; Barb Ollila contributed bread and butter to help sop up the stew liquid. Suzanne Jokela contributed a cake decorated with green grasshoppers and purple grapes, and Eric Jylanki provided a nut roll. The food was delicious!
After everyone at the meeting had eaten their fill, emcee John Ollila introduced St. Urho and the Grape Princess, who looked suspiciously like FHM members, Jeff and Debbie Werronen. The Grape Princess passed out green and purple beads and grapes to everyone, then gathered together her Court Singers - Mili Laituri and Ginnie Radcliffe. The Court Singers and the Grape Princess sang as St. Urho jabbed and prodded and finally got rid of all the grasshoppers in the Museum! Thank you Court Singers, Grape Princess, and St Urho!
Veikko Malkamaki (left), who was the first to visit Fairport Harbor as St. Urho, presented the "original" pitchfork used in that first St. Urho ceremony.
I should back up a bit. Before St Urho appeared, Pam Morse, representing the Fairport Heritage Foundation, had sensational news for us. She informed the Museum members and visitors of an exciting event coming to Fairport Harbor this summer. The Tall Ships will be visiting our village from July 8 through July 10, 2016. To date, eight ships have confirmed that they will be here, and a ninth, a Viking ship from Norway is expected to confirm its presence any day. There will be a Parade of Sail on Thursday, July 7, 2016, as the ships make their way to the docking area on the stone docks at the east side of the Grand River. There will be opportunities to tour the ships, and maybe even go for a sail! They will be docked just below the Museum. There are so many events and programs planned that it is impossible to list them all. For more information, please see the website www.tallshipsfairportharbor.com.
After the grasshoppers had all been chased out of the museum, emcee John Ollila led the group in an old English sea shanty, in honor of the upcoming Tall Ships. This shanty was of British origin because Britain once ruled the sea. The name of this particular shanty was “A Soldier and a Sailor,” and the FHM members joined in on each rousing chorus. John is pictured on the right, below.
After a short break, during which most members had some cake, Barb Ollila, FHM’s gift shop manager, raffled off a bottle of wine and two wine glasses, all in a lovely wooden holder made and decorated by member Mili Laituri. Then President Lasse Hiltunen called the monthly business meeting of the Finnish heritage Museum to order.
All this information and upcoming events may be accessed at the website www.finnishheritagemuseum.org.
In the meantime, our ongoing program, Create /Make / Perform Theater Workshop for Older Adults, is going strong. The next meeting will be March 22, 2016, in the Community Room of the Fairport Harbor Public Library. This is a program for older adults, 60+ years old, made possible by a grant from the Ohio Arts Council, and is part of the Creative Aging Initiative. Directed by Park Cofield (Sisu Is in the Heart) and Lisa Yanofsky, this program is intended to provide meaningful, person centered art experiences for older adults, and to support artistic mastery of theater skills, personal creativity, and social engagement. You do not have to be Finnish to participate; it’s open to everyone!
And remember, if you are anywhere near Fairport Harbor, Ohio, our museum is open on Saturdays from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. year-round, with more hours added during the summer. Our monthly meetings are on the second Monday of each month. We hope to see you soon.
Text © Sharon Ojanpa, Pictures © Lasse Hiltunen 2016
Our next program in April is the story of four Finn Hollow houses/families presented by Ken Quiggle (Hirvi), Bonnie Lackey (Humppi), Dan Smith (Ranttila), and Donna Lesiacsek (Kupari).