HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) - Preparations are underway in Hancock for the annual Finnish-American winter festival. This year's festival runs January 10 through February 6.
"Heikinpaiva is always about ethnic identity, in particular Finnish identity but not exclusively, and then about celebrating winter. It is a way that we kind of raise our fists to winter and say that it is not going to get the best of us,” said Finnish Theme Committee executive director Jim Kurtti.
This year's Heikinpaiva begins Wednesday January 10th with a social folk dance class.
"This is going to be taught by a variety of teachers, so there will be a variety of dances taught. It is an opportunity for people to learn how to waltz and polka and schottische. Also there will be some folk dancing in there and some contra dancing," said Kurtti.
The festival will also feature songwriting and harmonium workshops. New this year is Jouhikko playing instruction from several locals.
"Jouhikko is a very obscure folk instrument that almost died out and there has been a resurgence, interestingly not only in Finland but here in the Upper Peninsula. Just kind of out of the woodwork came four or five people all independently interested in Jouhikko," said Kurtti.
The annual parade and polar bear dive are Saturday, January 27. The full schedule is available at www.finnishamericanreporter.com/heikin_page/schedule.