A celebration of heritage

CALUMET – Jim Tervo and his family were attending the Main Street Calumet Heritage Celebration Saturday mostly because his grandsons took part in the Great Deer Chase bicycle race, but he also had a connection to this year’s theme of the 1913-14 copper strike.

Tervo, who is from Chassell, said family history puts his grandfather, Thomas Tervo, marching in the streets of Calumet after the Italian Hall tragedy, which left 73 people dead after a stampede down the steps from the second floor ballroom of the Italian Hall on Dec. 24, 1913.

His great grandmother and great aunt were also at the Italian Hall during the Christmas Eve celebration, but they were unhurt because they didn’t leave the ballroom.

“They didn’t move,” he said.

Tervo said he also enjoyed the Red Metal Radio Show, which also takes place during the Heritage Celebration at the Calumet Theatre.

“Those are really awesome,” he said.

In years past, the Heritage Celebration focused on one ethnic group, which has been part of Calumet’s history, but this year, in recognition of the centennial of the 1913-14 copper strike, the various ethnic groups who made up the population of Calumet and the surrounding area were recognized.

Tom Tikkanen, executive director of Heritage Celebration organizer Main Street Calumet, said he thought the crowd for Saturday, which was the final day of the week-long celebration, would be the largest yet, due to the theme of the strike.

“There’s been a lot of interest in the history,” he said.

There were a record number of vendors Saturday, also, Tikkanen said, with more than 40 expected.

“We’re really pleased with that,” he said.

Planning for the Saturday event required making certain as many ethnic groups were represented at the food booths as possible, Tikkanen said. There were Croatian, Finnish, Cornish, Italian and German foods at the booths.

Tikkanen said the theme for the 2014 Heritage Celebration will be shipping, which was important to the Copper Country in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

“A hundred years ago and beyond that, we were largely dependent on shipping,” he said.

The fact Saturday was warm and sunny, also, helped with assuring a large crowd, Tikkanen said.

“The weather was perfect,” he said.