Heikinpaiva is extended this year

Daily Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie A child gets pushed on a whip sled during the 2012 Heikinpaiva events in Hancock.

HANCOCK — In years past, the organizers of the Heikinpaiva Mid-Winter Festival ended it on the last Sunday of January with a dinner and musical events.

This year, David Maki, chairman of the Hancock Finnish Theme Committee, said the decision was made to extend the festivities for another two days to give visitors a little more to do.

At 2 p.m. on Jan. 27, there will be a virsikannel workshop open to students of all skill levels at the Finnish American Heritage Center on Quincy Street in Hancock. Enrollment in this class is free for those who complete the two-day building workshop, and $15 for other students. The virsikannel is a traditional single-stringed instrument.

On Jan. 28, the big day of the festival includes a parade at 11 a.m. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there will be many events on Quincy Green between the FAHC and the First United Methodist Church, such as wife carrying, whipsled rides and kick sled races for children. There will also be a tori, or market, in the church from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The usually-popular Polar Bear Dip takes place at 3 p.m. on Portage Lake in front of the Copper Island Beach Club. The entry fee is $1, and there will be a $100 prize for the most entertaining diver.

At 7 p.m. a Heikinpaiva iltamat (hors d’oeuvres dance) will take place at the Finnish American Heritage Center. Cost is $12 per adult, and free to those under 16. Music will be provided by Wilho Kilpelä & Friends.

At 2 p.m. Jan. 29, there will be a Finnish hymn sing and concert at Zion Lutheran Church in Hancock. The event is free and open to the public. It Includes a buffet of Finnish food.

From 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 3, Family Fun Night will take place at the Finnish American Heritage Center. The cost is $5 per family. For information, call 523-6271.

At 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Feb. 6, there will be a leipajuusto, or squeaky cheese-making workshop with Joanna Chopp at Finnish American Heritage Center. the cost is $15 per person.

At 6 p.m. Feb. 6, there will be five-string kantele class with Kris Kyro at the Finnish American Heritage Center. The cost is $15 per person.

Maki said Heikinpaiva has become a regional event drawing visitors from the Lower Peninsula, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“There are people who will drive across several states to be at Heikinpaiva,” he said.

The city of Hancock has a Finnish Theme Committee, and 18 years ago, members created Heikinpaiva, which used as its impetus St. Henrik’s Day, which is Jan. 19. Heiki is the vernacular form of Henrik. Paiva is Finnish for day, so Heikinpaiva is Henrik’s Day. The big day for events takes place during the last Saturday of the month, which marks the end of the first half of winter, recognized by the Finnish sayings, “The bear rolls over onto its other side,” and “Winter’s back is broken.”

According to the Finnish Theme Committee, about 40 percent of Hancock residents claim some measure of Finnish ancestry.