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8th Day Interview with Jim Kurtti about Heikinpäivä 2018 – Finnish-American Winter Festival in Hancock, Michigan

Heikinpäivä 2018 - Finnish-American Winter Festival in Hancock, Michigan
Heikinpäivä 2018 – Finnish-American Winter Festival in Hancock, Michigan

Listen To 8th Day Interview of Jim Kurtti about Heikinpäivä 2018 with Todd Pazz

Hancock, Michigan — It started as a day’s celebration, then grew to a week-long affair. Now, after nearly two decades of annual Finnish mid-winter fun in the Copper Country, the Heikinpäivä festival fills nearly the entire month of January with family activities with a Finnish flavor. The 2018 edition of the festival got under way January 10 with a social dance class, wraps on February 6 with a Sami Day program, and on the days in between includes enough Finnish activity to satisfy even the most ravenous consumers of culture.

Music is a highlight of this year’s festival, which features three music workshops, including a couple led by the 2018 Heikinpäivä artist-in-residence Jonathan Rundman. The Hancock-born Minneapolis resident is coming to the Copper Country to share his musical talents both on stage and in an educational setting (see sidebar story).

Rundman will also perform at the Heikinpäivä Hymn Sing, which is one of numerous festival favorites that event planners have worked to include on this year’s slate. Along with the Hymn Sing, festival-goers will be able to enjoy the tori market, outdoor games, plenty of live music, and the Heikinpäivä iltamat (evening dance). Also, back after a weather-induced hiatus, the Polar Bear Dive is set as well, this year under the capable leadership of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity of Michigan Tech University.

Interspersed among the traditional festival offerings are some new enrichment programs, including a workshop on playing the jouhikko, a folk instrument from Finland. Also described as a bowed lyre, the instrument has some aficionados in the Copper Country, and they’re eager to share what they know. Also, a local fiber artist will provide interested folks with an introduction to spinning.

The Finnish Theme Committee of Hancock, which organizes the Heikinpäivä festival each year, makes it a point to truly provide something for everyone, and this year is no exception. For a complete schedule of festival programming, visit pasty.com/heikki or find “Heikinpäivä” on Facebook.


Jonathan Rundman - Artist in Residence
Jonathan Rundman – Artist in Residence

Twin Cities-based singer/songwriter Jonathan Rundman will be the artist-in-residence at the annual Heikinpäivä Winter Festival on the campus of Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan in January. Rundman was born in Hancock and raised in Ishpeming. He will conduct workshops and perform throughout the week. All ages are welcome.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24th, 6PM, SONGWRITING WORKSHOP Jonathan will address various issues regarding the craft of songwriting, and professional skill development of the composer. Depending on the needs/interest of the group, topics can include: creativity, composition, music theory, brainstorming, showbiz, marketing, touring, DIY All levels of experience are welcome!

If you would like to share a song (or partial song idea) for critique, please bring a recording (CD and boom box, or ipod w/ speakers, etc.) of the song (home demo is fine!), OR bring an instrument so you can sing/play the song in person. Also, bring 15 copies of the lyric sheet. Jonathan will offer a constructive critique of your song. Jonathan will also be available for Q&A.

Participants are encouraged to bring notebooks, staff paper, iPhones, iPads, etc.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 25th, 6PM FINNISH FOLK MUSIC WORKSHOP Jonathan will facilitate a workshop for keyboard players who would like to learn about playing harmonium / pump organ, with a focus on Nordic folk music. Jonathan has presented this workshop previously at various Finnfests and Scandinavian Folk Festivals. He has toured the United States and Finland playing harmonium with Kaivama, Arto Järvelä, Walter Salas-Humara, and as a solo artist. As a session musician, Jonathan has played harmonium, piano, Wurlitzer, accordion, and Hammond organ for a variety of folk, rock, and gospel albums. Piano players, accordionists, organists, and rock/blues keyboard players are encouraged to attend!

Learn some traditional and contemporary Finnish tunes, and explore different approaches to harmonium accompaniment and arrangement. BRING YOUR OWN portable keyboard or accordion if possible! A few authentic harmoniums will be available for participants to try, as well as an acoustic piano, accordions, and other instruments.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 26th, 7PM, JONATHAN RUNDMAN IN CONCERT Finlandia University’s Chapel of St. Matthew will be the site for a concert by Jonathan, during which he’ll feature his rock music selections. The concert is being planned to attract students and other young music lovers, but anyone with an ear for talent is sure to enjoy.

Jonathan Rundman has been writing songs and performing across the country for 25 years. He emerged on the national music scene as a Chicago-based touring artist, generating rave reviews in Billboard, The New York Times, Performing Songwriter, Paste, and countless regional publications. Now living in Minneapolis, he continues to tour and record. Jonathan’s songs can be heard on radio stations across America, in Finland, and have been featured on television’s Ellen Degeneres Show, CBS This Morning, and Huomenta Suomi (Good Morning Finland).

In 2017 Rundman released the new solo retrospective album Reservoir, collecting his best songs of the new millennium.

Deftly navigating between folk music, “garage-y” rock, sophisticated pop, and Americana, Rundman proves to be one of the country’s most ingenious and persistent independent songwriters.

Young Finnish-American filmmaker selected as Hankookin Heikki 2018

When she began her latest filmmaking project, Kristin Ojaniemi didn’t know much about the Setters Co-op in Bruce Crossing, even though it’s in her hometown

It's a Finnish Thing
It’s a Finnish Thing

and has been there 100 years.

One year later, she’s shared what she learned through the DVD “Co-operatively Yours,” a documentary detailing the Finnish cooperative movement in America through the lens of Settlers Co-op as it celebrated its centennial. The film has greatly expanded people’s knowledge of the cooperative movement across Finnish America, and is the primary reason Ojaniemi has been selected by the City of Hancock’s Finnish Theme Committee as the 2018 Hankookin Heikki.

The 35-year-old Bruce Crossing native has two feature-length documentaries to her credit; her first endeavor into the genre was “UP a River,” which told the story of camp owners who were forced to vacate their properties along the Ontonagon River when their leases expired.

It’s “Co-operatively Yours,” though, that firmly put Ojaniemi on the filmmaking “map” – on two sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The film rights have been purchased by Finland’s national broadcast company YLE, and the film will be shown at least three times during 2018 in Finland.

Ojaniemi’s research work for the film took her to Finland in spring 2017, and since then the finished product has been featured at screenings at the Finnish American Heritage Center at Finlandia University, as well as at FinnFest USA 2017 in Minneapolis. The film is available on DVD as well, at several retail outlets across the U.S.

When she’s not exploring her Finnish roots, Ojaniemi can typically be found exploring the many outdoor recreation opportunities her hometown provides. She’s employed as the creative services director for an NBC affiliate station in Rhinelander, Wisconsin; she also teaches a course in digital video at Nicolet College in Rhinelander. A graduate of Grand Valley State University, Ojaniemi lives in Bruce Crossing with her boyfriend Justin and their pets.

Ojaniemi was announced as Hankookin Heikki at the 2017 Finnish Independence Day Gala Concert by the Finnish Theme Committee of Hancock. The award is bestowed annually upon a person who has exhibited extraordinary effort toward preservation and promotion of Finnish culture in the Copper Country and beyond. Her first “official” duty as Hankookin Heikki will be as the parade marshal of the 2018 Heikinpäivä parade, which takes place in Hancock on Saturday, January 27. For further information about the Finnish Theme Committee or the Heikinpäivä festival, call (906) 487-7549.

Heikinpäivä Parade
Heikinpäivä Parade

Festival Schedule

  • Wednesday, January 10 6 p.m. — Social-folk dance class begins, Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. $50 per student for 8 sessions on Wednesday evenings.
  • Thursday, January 11 2 p.m. & 6 p.m. — Nordic Film Series presents showings of “The Fencer” by director Klaus Härö, Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. Donations appreciated. Call (906) 487-7302.
  • Friday, January 19 6 p.m. — Dinner by Kangas Cafe and Finnish film “Invisible Elina,”Calumet Theatre. Call (906) 337-2610.
  • Tuesday, January 23 p.m. — Jouhikkolecture/recital with some hands-on opportunities, 6 p.m., Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. $8 per person.
  • Wednesday, January 24 6 p,m. – Songwriting workshopwith Artist in Residence Jonathan Rundman, Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. $15 per person.
  • Thursday, January 25 6 p.m. – Harmonium workshopwith Artist in Residence Jonathan Rundman, Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. $15 per person.
  • Friday, January 26 7 p.m. – Artist in Residence Jonathan Rundman in oncert, featuring his rock-and-roll selections, Chapel of St. Matthew, Finlandia University, Hancock.
  • Saturday, January 27
    • 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. — Tori Market, FAHC
    • 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. — Vipukelkka(Whipsled), kicksleds,
    • and plenty of outdoor fun! Quincy Green.
    • 11 a.m. – Parade, downtown Hancock. Line up at La Cantina restaurant at 10:30 a.m. Prizes.
    • Following parade —Wife-carrying contest and kicksled races, Quincy Green. Prizes.
    • 11 a.m. — Author talk and book signing by Karl Bohnak, author of “SunBurns to Snowstorms,”North Wind Books, Hancock.
    • 1 p.m. — Author talk and book signing by Kate Remlinger, author of “Yooper Talk,” Finnish American Historical Archive.
    • 3 p.m. — Polar Bear Dive, Hancock waterfront. Sponsored by Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.
    • 7 p.m. — Heikinpäivä iltamat(hors d’oeuvres, dance), Finnish American Heritage Center. $12 per person.
  • Sunday, January 28 2 p.m. — Finnish Hymn Sing and Concert, Zion Lutheran Church, Hancock. Open to the public.
  • Friday, February 2 6:30-8:30 p.m. — Family Fun Night Finnish American Heritage Center. $5 per family. For information, call (906) 523-6271.
  • Monday, February 5
    • 2 p.m. & 6 p.m. — Leipäjuusto (squeaky cheese) making workshopwith Joanna Chopp, Finnish American Heritage Center. $15 per person.
    • 2 p.m. & 6 p.m. — Introduction to spinning workshopwith Jeanne Medlyn, Finnish American Heritage Center. $15 per person.
  • Tuesday, February 6 Time TBA — “The Sami: The Church’s Evolving Relationship with Finland’s Indigenous People,” by visiting scholar Bror Träsbacka, Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.


Festival Schedule

Unless otherwise indicated, call (906) 482-1413 or e-mail mpekkala@charter.net for class registration. All events listed subject to change.

All Images Courtesy of David Maki, Jim Kurtti, or https://www.facebook.com/Heikinp%C3%A4iv%C3%A4-133390353394394/

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