Hancock city council hears update on FinnFest

HANCOCK – FinnFest USA 2013 is just two months away, and during their regular meeting Wednesday, members of the Hancock City Council got an update on preparations from one of the event’s officials.

Kevin Manninen, chairman of both the FinnFest marketing committee and business forum, said FinnFest was also hosted by Hancock in 1985 and 1990. In 2005, it was conducted in Marquette.

Close to 40 percent of residents in Hancock and surrounding communities claim to be of Finnish decent, Manninen said.

“We are hoping to attract a lot of Finnish Americans,” he said. “The upper Midwest is where most of the Finns in the United States reside. That’s our target audience.”

Manninen said FinnFest events will take place all over the Copper Country June 19 to 23 from Baraga County to Copper Harbor in Keweenaw County. One of the larger events will be the Tori, or market, which will be located in the Michigan Technological University Student Development Complex.

“It’s going to be a true regional event,” he said.

Manninen said on June 21 the FinnFest and Bridgefest parades will be combined.

“Obviously, it’s going to be a big one,” he said.

City Council Member John Haeussler said the Hancock Sesquicentennial celebration will also be part of the parade.

There will be fireworks in Hancock on June 22, Manninen said. That same night, there will be a large bonfire in Toivola.

“With the amount of people, I think we can certainly hold both,” he said.

There is expected to be a significant positive economic impact to the area from FinnFest, with up to 6,000 people from all over the world expected to attend.

“Estimates were in Marquette that it brought between $10 and $12 million to the area,” he said. “We are looking to at least have that.”

There will be an attempt to set a world record for Nordic walking during FinnFest, Manninen said. The record is 1,026 walkers set in 2007 in Sweden. The activity involves walking with poles similar to cross country ski poles. The start will be at 10 a.m. at the Church of the Resurrection in Hancock and end at Ray Kestner Waterfront Park in Houghton.

“We’re not going to attempt it,” he said. “We’re going to smash it.”

Manninen said some housing for visitors still needs to be arranged, and fundraising efforts for the event still is being done.

More information about FinnFest USA 2013 can be found online at