IRONWOOD - Cold days and hot soup go together like hands and mittens, and for the fifth annual Sisu Ski Fest Saturday, both soup and mittens will be needed.
To keep with the Finnish trend through the event, volunteers prepare a traditional meal for after the race at the Ironwood Memorial Building, including pasties and mojakka.
Mojakka is soup served in Finnish-American households in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan that includes beef or fish and potatoes. When made with fish, the soup is called kalamojakka, and with beef it's lihamojakka.
With nearly 500 racers expected to participate in the ski fest Saturday, volunteers are hard at work mixing together the soup.
According to volunteer Jeanne Walston, of Kimball, Wis ., this is the fourth year she has made mojakka. She is including students from Luther L. Wright High School in Ironwood to help in the cooking process this year.
Walston said the soup "goes over well" each year.
"Some of the people have never heard of it before," Walston said. "It gives them a chance to try something new."
Students diced vegetables, and according to Walston, the "kids are quick. Before, it used to take three days to peel potatoes," Walston said. "With the amount of kids we have, it took two hours."
A total of 700 servings will be dished out Saturday, totaling 45 gallons of soup. The recipe is Walston's own recipe, but required a little tweaking for how many people were being served.
"You can't find a recipe for 700 people," Walston said. "I use my recipe from home, but doctor it up."
For Walston, having students be a part of the process has been "wonderful."
She said, "They are getting a different perspective on things, and some didn't know what mojakka was. They are willing to work."
Kids' Lapset Loppet races scheduled for Thursday were canceled because of the frigid weather.
High winds and wind chills below zero forced the event to be canceled after the weather caused it to be rescheduled twice during the week.
According to volunteer Paulette Niemi, volunteers are hoping to reschedule the event at the end of January or in February, if possible.