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Heritage celebrated in Calumet

August 20, 2012
By STACEY KUKKONEN - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

CALUMET - Pizza may be her speciality, but for Heritage Days in Calumet Saturday, Eva Szilagyi pulled out the next best thing she makes - Finnish breakfast foods.

The sweet smell of pannukakku filtered through Agassiz Park where the Finnish culture was being celebrated this year as part of the festival.

Szilagyi, with Calumet Pizza Works, had a booth set up where traditional pannukakku breakfasts were being sold. Shortly after the parade, the crew working the booth was certain they would run out soon.

Article Photos

Stacey Kukkonen/Daily Mining Gazette
Democratic state congressional candidate Scott Dianda, left, and Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, catch up between events at Heritage Days in Calumet Saturday.

"This is Eva's grandma's recipe," said Emily Loukus, who was manning the booth. "It's really popular. We started at 9 this morning. We're going to run out pretty soon here."

Szilagyi was up early preparing 40 servings of the sweet pancake-like concoction, which was accompanied by sausage links and toppings. Lines formed at the booth of people waiting to get their hands on the dense, yet fluffy, breakfast.

"A lot of people put syrup on it traditionally, or powdered sugar," Szilagyi said. "The nice things about it is you can put ice cream or berries on it like a dessert. It's multi-use."

Szilagyi said the nice thing about offering the pannukakku breakfast was the proximity to her business.

"My shop is right over there," she said pointing toward downtown Calumet. "I can bake them and bring them over here. I baked these a half hour ago."

While munching on pannukakku, Chris Sochay was listening to polka music by The Finn Hall Band.

"The breakfast was fantastic," he said. "I don't get to eat this that often. It was very good."

Bales of hay circled the makeshift band shell where The Finn Hall Band played lively music. Some watchers got up to dance while some simply tapped their feet to the music. On the outskirts of the park, various vendors were placed, displaying goods for sale. Vendors ranged from artists, like basket weavers and jewelers, to representation by local organizations, such as the Copper Country Habitat for Humanity and the Calumet Woman's Club.

A popular booth Saturday, located near bounce house castles for kids, was the FinnFest 2013 booth, where T-shirts were sold and information was given out.

"We're getting the word out about FinnFest," said Kevin Manninen, who is on the planning board and works at Finlandia University.

Less than a year away, FinnFest will be held in the Copper Country June 19 to 23.

"We're starting to put the program together," he said. "We're really hitting crunch time here. It's less than a year and the fall season is starting."

Manninen said the general community response has been positive and the cities of Houghton and Hancock, as well as Michigan Technological University are represented on the board, among others. The last time FinnFest was held in the local area was in 1990.

"It's going to have all the traditional Finnish celebrations with music, dance, art and lectures," he said. "We're hoping to expand to a wider audience and we're looking at having a business forum on one of the days."

There will also be hockey games and Nordic walking, he said. Additionally, they are working with a hunting organization in Finland to present a hunting museum display.

Manninen said having the festival here makes sense because of the population and popularity.

"This is the area with the largest concentration of people with a Finnish background according to the U.S. Census," he said.

Earlier in the day, the Finnish culture, local politicians and businesses were represented in the parade. Entries included the Calumet High School Marching Band, Knights of Columbus, Calumet Players, Kivajat Dancers, FinnFest, classic cars, Copper Country gymnastics, emergency response vehicles and many more.

During the parade and the festival that followed, Ema Sackson-Hodges and her Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw classmates walked around with brightly colored bags of cotton candy on long sticks.

"We're selling stuff for our eighth-grade class trip so we can go to New York," she said.

The group had a booth located in the park where they had tables filled with baked goods and were busy making snow cones. The group of more than 50 is looking to raise about $1,200 before the trip at the end of the 2012-13 school year, she said.

"The cotton candy is popular," Sackson-Hodges said.



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