Our Themes


Labor and the 1913-14 Copper Strike

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Copper Strike of 1913-14, we will take a look at a number of aspects of labor issues involving the Finns, including the tragic Italian Hall Disaster, in which 72 lives were lost in an indoor stampede following a false cry of "Fire!" by an unknown person. Taking place on Christmas Eve 1913 in the village of Red Jacket (present-day Calumet), the Italian Hall Disaster marked an important turning point in local labor history, as well as local Finnish history. Of the dead, the vast majority were Finnish children. Programming will both mourn those lost in the struggle for fair working conditions, and explore  other little-known aspects of regional labor and political history. Programming pieces include:

-a tour of working-class landmarks in the area and self-guided tours of cemeteries in which Italian Hall victims were buried

-showings of the films "1913 Massacre" and "Under the Red Star"

-lectures on numerous aspects of labor and political politics including the strike, unionism in the 1950s, and Karelian Fever

-a mass for the Italian Hall victims 


Religious Heritage

Regardless of denomination, many Copper Country churches have Finnish roots – or at least strong Finnish connections through their congregants – so it’s only natural that FinnFest USA 2013 will have a strong religious component. With events ranging from open houses, to special services, to pannukakku breakfasts or coffee oases, many local churches are welcoming FinnFest guests to visit. Many of these churches will come together for what is very likely the first ever all-clergy wife carrying contest in FinnFest history – if not world history!
Other highlights of our religious programming include:

-daily and Sabbath day worship services at local churches and a special requiem mass for the victims of the 1913 Italian Hall Disaster

-open houses and tours of local churches

-lectures and exhibits on the Suomi Synod, Laestadian faiths, Lutheranism and Orthodoxy in Finland, and Sámi religious traditions 

-musical performances and demonstrations 


Sámi Culture

Since the first Finns and Sámi arrived together in Hancock in 1865, their similar, yet unique cultures have come together here in a way that resulted in the Copper Country becoming affectionately known as “Amerikan Lappi” (America’s Lapland). FinnFest USA 2013 planners have assembled a program that includes more Sámi-themed programming than any other FinnFest. With ten unique lectures, two films, a panel discussion, performances by the Sami Jienat choir, and several children’s activities on the schedule, festival patrons will have ample opportunity to learn about the Sámi culture. Additionally, guests can visit the Sámi encampment, complete with an authentic shelter called a lavvu, reindeer, and numerous examples of Sámi duodji (traditional handicraft).
Because of their unique connections with Finnish culture and our region, and their role as European leaders in indigenous people’s affairs, festival organizers are pleased to have the Sámi significantly represented at this year’s FinnFest. Learn more through these programs!

-a Sámi encampment featuring traditional lávvu tents and reindeer

-Lectures on many aspects of Sámi culture including reindeer herding, arts, material culture and traditional dress, religion, and oral traditions

-musical performances and storytelling

Sámi programming sponsored in part by the American Scandinavian Foundation and the Sámi Siida of North America


The War Child Experience

During the World War II era, 70,000 Finnish children were evacuated to neighboring countries while their parents stayed behind. The largest humanitarian evacuation of children in history, this event has a legacy felt today among the children who experienced it. While many children went home, many did not return to their families in Finland. Their experiences are unique, but they have often felt silenced, and it is only in recent years that war children have been recognized for their sacrifices and honored for their resilience. Our War Children Experience programming pieces include lectures detailing personal histories, the lives of War Children in adulthood, and their search for justice in the face of abuse.


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