Hancock residents take class in traditional Finnish boot making

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HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) - Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center brought in boot making instructors from Finland to teach Copper Country residents.

"We're making a traditional Finnish Boot, it's a style that's well known and it has the signature curled toe on it. Many people think the curled toe is decorative, but it really was essential; it held your ski strap on years ago," said Jim Kurtti, the Director of the Finnish American Heritage Center.

The instructors are two of the only cobblers of this style of boot left in the world, and this is the only class that has been offered in the United States.

"These guys really are at the top of their game, and they've been able to come here and teach us how to make this traditional boot that we all kind of remember hearing about and seeing," added Kurtti.

Many of the students in the class are of Finnish decent and the class holds a sentimental value for them.

"It's just kind of interesting, they used the tar for the string, and I know some of my Great Great Uncles had tar pits back in Northern Finland. It just all ties together to my heritage," said Becky Hoekstra, a student in the class.

For those interested in the class, the Finnish American Heritage Center is considering asking the instructors to return. The instructors however are hoping the students will keep the tradition alive in the U.S.

"We're hoping that some of the students now will pick up the trade, and perhaps even start teaching it here. Otherwise it will go away, and once it's gone no one will know how to make it," Juhani Mannisto, one of the instructors of the class.

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