March 18, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 65

Little Finland hosts annual St. Urho's Day dance

KIMBALL, Wis. — Local Finlanders, and non-Finnish people alike, gathered at Little Finland on Sunday for the annual dance dedicated to St. Urho’s Day.

Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe
Dancers polka their way around the room during the annual St. Urho’s Day Dance at Little Finland in Kimball, Wis., Sunday.

St. Urho’s Day takes place on March 16 and is a Finnish holiday. The legend of St. Urho says that he chased grasshoppers out of ancient Finland to save the grape crop and the jobs of the Finnish vineyard workers.

Each year, people wear purple to celebrate his day.

At Little Finland, the annual dance has been taking place for many years, but as to how many years, people aren’t so sure.

“Well, I know that our women’s auxiliary started in 1980 and we have been doing a dance since then,” member Sonja Luoma said. “But before then, I don’t know.”

Attendees had lunch and danced to many Finnish polkas, by the band “Dorothy and the Boys.”

“This is a pretty popular event,” Luoma said. “We usually have a good crowd.”

However, numbers have been declining in the group according to Luoma. The group would like to see younger people celebrating their Finnish heritage.

“We have been losing a lot of older people,” Luoma said. “We would like to see some younger people coming to the events.”

Each year, Little Finland hosts numerous events, including the annual Midsummer or Juanus Festival in June, Laskiainen Festival in February and Viola Turpeinen Day in July.

“Our Laskiainen Festival normally takes place in February, but this year, we are hosting it in April,” Luoma said. “We also have a Mother’s Day concert at Zion Lutheran Church in May, Finnish movies every so often, and the proceeds from that benefit the Iron County Food Pantry.”

To get started in learning the Finnish heritage, Luoma recommends for people to take the language class.

“It’s free and is every second and fourth Monday of the month,” Luoma said.

However, despite the dwindling numbers, Luoma said that the location brings in people from all over the world to see the building, gift shop, walking trails, both museums and authentic Finnish sauna.

“We have had people come from all 50 states in the union, Canada, Finland, Norway and many more places,” Luoma said. “Everyone is welcome to come see what we have here, and you don’t have to be Finnish. Everyone can come.”

For more information on Little Finland, events or joining the club, contact Luoma at 715-893-2248 or Seija Jarvenpaa at 906-932-1608.