A celebration of summer

By GARRETT NEESE

gneese@mininggazette.com

HANCOCK – The City of Hancock is steeped in Finnish heritage, but there had been one part of the culture that hadn’t crossed over.

That was rectified Saturday, when Finlandia University erected a traditional mid-summer pole on the Quincy Green Saturday afternoon.

Finnish American Heritage Center Director James Kurtti led the way in the decision, along with the Hancock Finnish Theme Committee.

“It’s something we had hoped to get in place for Finn Fest, but for a variety of reasons it wasn’t able to happen, so we made certain it happened this year,” said Dave Maki, assistant editor of the Finnish American Reporter.

The significance of the pole depends on the area of Finland. In some coastal communities, Maki said, it replaces the mid-summer bonfire. In others, it represents the area’s nautical history.

“It brings people together around a common theme, a common gathering point to celebrate the middle of summer – or here, the beginning of summer,” Maki said.

The 20-plus-foot spruce pole was crafted by Copper Country Woodcarvers, decorated by some of the women at the Hancock Tori.

“It will have to come down at some point, but we will keep it up through the summer as a celebration of Finnish culture in the Copper Country,” he said.

Maki said the appeal isn’t limited to Finns, but anyone who appreciates the Finnish culture.

“It’s another example of how we don’t become Finnish for festivals, we’re always Finnish here, and sometimes we display it more publicly,” he said.