Sharon OJanpa Mackey, FHM Staff Reporter

portraitThis summer at the Finnish Heritage Museum has been a busy and exciting one. Visitors from all over the United States, and even several foreign countries, have walked in the door, wanting to know more about what we do at the Museum; why there is a Finnish Museum in the little town of Fairport Harbor, Ohio; what the Finnish people are like; and, most importantly, could their ancestors be Finnish and can we help to find them.

We have taken part in many village celebrations and programs as well as some uniquely distinct Finnish holidays. Juhannus, Pikkujoulo, and St. Urho’s Day are unique to the Finns; but we also celebrate, with the whole town, the Fourth of July, Village Fest, Community Day, and Harbor Holidays. These are just some of the events going on in our small town. We try to work closely with what the Village Tourism Council plans and puts on.
This year, the August monthly meeting of the FHM was held on August 12, 2019. Museum President Lasse Hiltunen called the meeting to order promptly at 7p.m. The first order of business was a presentation by Amy Cossick, Fairport Harbor Village Administrator. She brought us up to date on the upcoming Village Fest, which promises to be loads of fun. Events Chair Anne Pohto then took over the microphone and introduced Ken Quiggle, who told us about the featured happenings at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.

Many different countries sponsor gardens in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. The Finnish Heritage Museum has become the main sponsor for the Finnish Garden. It is up to us to make sure the garden looks good year round for visitors and passersby. To that end, Ken Quiggle, Dave Leifer, and many others frequently make the trip to Cleveland to be sure the Finnish Garden is kept in top shape.

On Sunday, August 25, 2019, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens sponsored One World Day at their grounds, beginning with a parade at 12:00 noon. The motto of the Cultural Gardens is “Peace through Mutual Understanding,” still a very relevant objective today. After the parade, the rest of the afternoon was spent showcasing the gardens from different countries, highlighting music, games, dancing and other customs of the different cultural groups.

The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are unique in the world. They are part of the 254 acre Rockefeller Park, which was donated to the city of Cleveland in 1896, the city’s centennial. One reason for their uniqueness is the encouragement by the city of Cleveland for the diversity of its citizens. Most gardens have highlighted one or more esteemed native persons of that country, maybe a poet or composer, a philosopher or educator, musician or political figure. No monument may be erected depicting war or military figures. Sports and entertainment figures are usually discouraged.

Our Finnish garden became part of the CCG in the 1950s, and highlights the accomplishments of Johan Vilhelm Snellman, philosopher and statesman; Johan Ludvig Runeberg, national poet of Finland; Jean Sibelius, composer; Alexis Kivi, author; Paavo Nurmi, athlete; and Elias Lonnrot, doctor and author of the epic poem Kalevala. A group called Talko seemed to be very instrumental in fundraising and establishing our garden. They offered to pay for the concrete used in the construction of our garden, a huge undertaking for a small group. What or who was Talko? More research coming up.

The gardens vary in size and shape, and are located along both Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and East Boulevard. Each country’s garden is different from its neighbors in both appearance and size and shape. Some gardens are on one level only, while others are on both the upper level of East Boulevard and the lower MLK Jr. Drive. If you haven’t seen these unique gardens, it is well worthwhile to make an effort to visit. If it’s impossible to view the gardens in person, you can view them on line.

After this very enjoyable presentation, refreshments were served, compliments of Jane Hiltunen and Janine and Larry LaBounty.

As you can see, the Finnish Heritage Museum is a very busy place. However, winter is coming, so we will slow the pace a bit. Starting in October, the museum will be open only on Saturdays from 10 AM to 3 PM. To see the events scheduled for the upcoming months, please check our website – finnishheritagemuseum.org.

FHM Draws Visitors TEXT © Sharon Mackey, pictures © Jane Hiltunen 2019








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