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The place where St. Urho was (possibly) buried: Celebrate Finnish culture at the Finn Creek Folk Festival Aug 23, 24

The entrance sign to the Finn Creek Museum welcomes visitors to the grounds for the Finn Creek Folk Festival this weekend.

It all started around 40 years ago when an old Finnish farmstead was donated in hopes of being preserved for years to come.

That donated land is the centerpiece for what is now the location of the annual Finn Creek Folk Festival.

On the land today is the original farmhouse, along with other historical buildings. Those buildings have been donated by local communities in order to enhance the Finn Creek experience. There is also a replica built chapel and store on the land, made to resemble how each would look in the late 1800s.

This summer marks a special anniversary at the festival, as 2014 is celebrated as the 150th year of Finnish culture in America.

The Finn Creek Folk Festival was selected as a regional outreach festival dedicated to the preservation of Finnish culture and celebration of a strong Finnish presence in the U.S.

Legend has it that St. Urho (a Finnish Saint famous for driving off the grasshoppers and saving a grape crop) actually visited the area, fell ill, and, once deceased, chose to be buried at Finn Creek because he claimed the water would flow straight back to his homeland of Finland.

Even those who don’t fully believe in that St. Urho tale will no doubt enjoy themselves at the Finn Creek Folk Festival, slated for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 23- 24. The festival lineup ensures a great time with food, entertainment, culture and a bit of Finnish history.

Saturday will kick off with a pancake breakfast at 7:30 a.m., with many activities to follow. The festival’s afternoon attractions will include both a garden tractor and ATV pull, scheduled to begin at noon.

Musical performances will be plentiful at the Finn Creek Festival, with Saturday featuring the Saana Ensemble, a vocal group performing Finnish music, sometimes with percussion and other instruments.

Also on Saturday will be the well-known squeezebox player Kip Peltoniemi. He is described as the last of the old-time button accordion players from the Finnish Triangle. This one-man show is said to feature accordion instrumentals, humorous songs, dubious folklore, tall tales and all-out lies.

Sunday won’t be slacking on entertainment, either. The day will be highlighted by an antique tractor pull at 1 p.m., and the musical lineup will feature an abundance of performances.

The Northern Lights Gospel Quartet will serenade the crowd through their gospel music, incorporating popular do-wop and barbershop arrangements. In addition to this quartet will be Ameriikan Poijat, a brass septet that has been appearing all over the U.S. at local festivals, regional tours and music conferences. In a mixture of both Finnish and American traditions, Dianne Jarvi will be performing songs as she plays the Kantele (Finnish folk harp) guitar.

In addition to the events taking place on either day, there will be plenty of activities happening throughout the duration of the festival.

From 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., both days, there will be concessions with hot food choices for purchase as well as Finnish treats, homemade pies and homemade ice cream. 

The kids will have plenty of chances for fun. They can get acquainted with some furry friends as the petting zoo will be back again this year. Led by Shell Tumberg, the petting zoo will feature small ponies, goats, pigs, baby chickens and rabbits for the children to enjoy. A kids’ tractor pull, sponsored by the Wadena County FFA, is also scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

On display during the festival will be selections from a unique Jeep collection, including a military Jeep, farm Jeep and recreational Jeep.

As always, both the sawmill and the blacksmith shop on the grounds will be up and running. Fans will be able to see the sawmill in operation, and the blacksmith will be bending and forging metals, just as was the norm 150 years ago.

When the festival is not going on, the property is home to the Finn Creek Open Air Museum. The museum has regular hours during which volunteers are on the grounds and people are welcome to explore the area and visit the museum and gift shop. These hours are from 1-5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Memorial Day until Labor Day.

Specific times for the folk festival entertainment will be provided on a bulletin upon arrival to the Finn Creek Open Air Museum. 

The museum and festival are located three miles east of New York Mills, off Highway 106.

Guests don’t have to be of Finnish descent to enjoy what this festival has to offer. The food, tractors, music and activities make the Finn Creek Folk Festival a ‘must’ for anyone looking to enjoy an outdoors August weekend in Minnesota.