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Petrell Hall Centennial this weekend

This weekend, Brimson and Toimi residents will have a big reason to celebrate. Petrell Hall, the local community center, celebrates its 100-year birthday this year.

The hall was built in 1912 by Finnish immigrants but fell into disrepair near the middle of the century. A volunteer group renovated the building in the 80s and local folks have been working ever since to fulfill its original mission: "To be used for the social uplifting of the working class forever."

Kathy Unger, co-chair of the Petrell Hall Centennial Committee, volunteered because of her heritage and dedication to the area.

"I feel a connection to the struggles of the early immigrants and pioneers," Unger said.

The hall, which has been renovated and maintained almost exclusively by volunteers and grants, is a very unique specimen. According to Dr. Arnold Alanen, author of "Finns of Minnesota," it's one of three historic halls in the state that maintains a direct connection to its ethnic origins.

To celebrate Petrell Hall's 100-year birthday, the Centennial Committee has been fundraising and planning for years. While some of their effort and money has gone to regular maintenance and improvements to the hall, they've managed to put together an impressive two-day program to take place this weekend.

Inside the hall on Saturday, there will be exhibits all day and presentations from various authors and Finnophiles. Presenter topics run the gamut from Finland's economic justice to the tradition of saunas. The evening will end with an old-fashioned Finnish variety show, complete with Ole & Lena skits.

Outside, the weekly Brimson Market will be open. Visitors can take a hay ride pulled by a Belgian horse for a small donation and listen to music from local and national acts. Unger said she's excited about the big acts they've booked, like Diane Jarvi, internationally-acclaimed poet and musician, but she can't wait to hear the locals as well.

"We have a lot of very interesting speakers and great musicians," Unger said.

A stew-and-bread lunch will be prepared by the Brimson Action Club with profits supporting their programming, and a meatball dinner will be provided by the Toimi School Community Center to raise money for their projects.

Sunday begins with the fourth annual Labor Day weekend pancake breakfast, a fundraiser for Petrell Hall. Per their Finnish heritage, organizers have included delicacies such as blueberry sauce, boiled eggs and pickled herring in their offerings.

"The pancake breakfast is not ordinary," Unger said.

The morning is packed with more exhibits, hay rides, a silent auction, the Drummond String Band and another presentation by Dr. Alanen. At noon, the hall will receive its state certificate of recognition, followed by the grand prize drawing and the preparation of a time capsule, which organizers hope will be opened at the bicentennial in 2112.

"I'm looking forward to seeing everyone have a good time. That's really the goal of it all," Unger said, adding in the age-old Minnesotan plea for any outdoor event: great weather.

Petrell Hall Centennial full schedule

at Petrell Hall

3345 Brimson-Toimi Rd

County Road 353

Free admission

Saturday, inside

•10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Exhibits

•10 a.m. Dr. Arnold Alanen, author of "Finns of Minnesota"

•11 a.m. Aaron Hautala & Michael Nordskog, authors of "The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition"

•1 p.m. Pam Brunfelt presents: The Search for Economic Justice: The Finns Lead the Way

•2 p.m. Robert Nelson presents: The Tools & Work of Robert Anderson: A Finnish Renaissance Man

•3 p.m. Loretta Suliin Busch presents: The Song-land of the Kalevala: The Viena Karelian Folklore Villages

•6:30-8 Old Fashioned Variety Show

Saturday, Outside

•10 a.m. - 1 p.m Brimson Market

•10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Children's Activities

•10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Crafts, Demonstrations

•10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Strawberry Fields, Hay Rides

•10 a.m. Art Lehtonen, Accordion

•11 a.m. Cal McCorison, Guitar

•12 p.m. Casey Aro, Guitar & Comedy

•12-1p.m. Lunch, Mojakka ja Leipä (stew & bread) served by Brimson Action Club, $6 / $3

•12:15 p.m. Sauna Tour

•1 p.m. Black River Revue, Bluegrass

•2 p.m. Gerry Mealey, Accordion

•3 p.m. Log Sawing Contest with prizes

•3 p.m. "Duke" Ellingson, Accordion & Guitar

•4 p.m. Diane Jarvi, Singer/Poet

•5 p.m. John Berquist, Singer/Storyteller

•5-6:15 p.m. Dinner, Meatball dinner served by Toimi School Community Center, $7 / $4


•8-11 a.m. Pancake Breakfast, $6 / $3, under 5, free

•8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Silent Auction

•9-11 a.m. Exhibits

•9-11 a.m. Strawberry Fields, Hay Rides

•9-11 a.m. Drummond String Band

•11 a.m. - 12 p.m. Dr. Arnold Alanen, From Finland to North America: Buildings, Landscapes & Cultural Change

•12 p.m. Petrell Hall State Certificate of Recognition

•12:10 p.m. Grand Prize Drawing: two nights at Wilderness North Retreat Center, Toimi MN

•12:20 p.m. Time Capsule Presentation

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.
(218) 834-2141