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Months of hard work saves booya!

Julie Arnold and Stacy Breden launched a campaign early this year to bring back the booya festival in Finland after a year of hiatus. Their hard work will be showcased this weekend. 2013 file / News-Chronicle1 / 4
In addition to the hearty stew, booya, organizers will serve grilled corn. 2013 file / News-Chronicle2 / 4
A small farmer's market will also be open at the booya festival this weekend, with plenty of late-season produce available for purchase. 2013 file / News-Chronicle3 / 4
2013 file / News-Chronicle4 / 4

The Harvest Booya and Finnfest went on hiatus last year due to lack of volunteers, but Stacy Breden and Julie Arnold have dedicated the past six months to bringing the booya back. This weekend, they will see the fruits of their labor.

"It turned out better than I thought," Breden said.

She and Arnold have been fundraising and recruiting volunteers since January and have raised enough money to put on the festival and cook 60 gallons of booya. As for what's in the booya, Breden's not sharing the secret, but she did reveal that they're using a recipe that's at least a quarter-century old.

They will start cooking the hearty soup on Friday morning so it will be done by Saturday. The women say that 50 gallons will be made with meat; 10 will be vegetarian.

The booya festival started 25 years ago as a fundraiser for the Zion Lutheran Church. By the time enough money was raised to reroof the building, the festival had become a community favorite, so it became an annual tradition. Last year, however, organizers were unable to gather volunteers to help with the event and decided it was time to hang up their aprons.

Unwilling to let the beloved community event die, Breden and Arnold rolled up their sleeves and took on the coordination of the event for 2013. The pair say they've been pleased with the support they've received.

"If it wasn't for the people that were helping, then it really wouldn't be happening," Breden said, of financial contributors and volunteers who've lent a hand.

The event's central focus, of course, is the booya, but there will also be fry bread and grilled corn available. About 30 crafters and vendors will be selling their wares and some late-season produce will be available from local farmers. In addition, there will be face painting for kids from 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. and music by Houley & Mo. Breden said she hopes the festival will continue to grow, hinting that there may be a car show and more kids' activities in the future.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m at the Clair Nelson Center, 6866 Cramer Road, Finland.

Community members are encouraged to join the Booya Fest 2014 committee.

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
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