Residents of Finland are busily preparing for the 45th annual St. Urho’s celebration March 13-15. This year’s theme is "St. Urho Makes the '20s Roar."
“You can kind of either go back to the 1920s with that idea or you could think about what the next decade holds, because none of us really know,” St. Urho event coordinator Honor Schauland said. “It’s always fun to see what people come up with and the fun festive spirit people put into things.”
Who is this St. Urho? He's the fictional saint of Finland who is believed to have driven the grasshoppers out of the nation. The holiday originated on the Iron Range in the 1950s.
If you’re not quite ready to celebrate St. Urho yet, there’s a community float building workshop 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 6-8 at the Clair Nelson Center in Finland. Those who plan to attend are encouraged to bring large pieces of cardboard and brown paper bags to be used for paper mache to make costumes, grasshoppers and larger projects. Children ages 10 and above can come on their own, but children ages 9 and under need an adult or older sibling willing to supervise them.
Official celebrations will kick off Friday, March 13, with the Miss Helmi talent show and beauty pageant. The event travels to various locations throughout town and at the last stop, the winner of the pageant is crowned Miss Helmi and will be included in the parade the following morning. Miss Helmi is considered St. Urho’s “girlfriend.”
Schauland said the order of the bar stops isn’t revealed before the night of the contest, so pick one of the three establishments and “we’ll show up at some point.”
“And there are special dinner specials and music at all three, so no matter where you end up, you’ll have fun,” Schauland said.
If you end up having too much fun, there is a sober cab available courtesy of Adam’s Auto Value in Silver Bay.
Festivities begin the next morning with a pancake breakfast at the Clair Nelson Center to benefit the Finland Minnesota Historical Society from 8-10:30 a.m.
“After that, it’s a good idea to go downtown to get good parking or a good spot to watch the parade, because it fills up fast,” Schauland said.
If you end up at the tail end of the parade near the Baptism River, there’s always a tug-of-war contest on the bridge prior to the parade.
“It takes a while for the parade to get to the end, so that’s our entertainment while we wait,” Schauland said.
Following the parade, there are crafts, kids games, a lunch and music from Steve Solkela’s “Overpopulated” One-Man Band at the Clair Nelson Center and other music and entertainment at the various restaurants and bars the rest of the day.
The festival wraps up Sunday, March 15, with the annual raffle drawing. Raffle tickets will be on sale throughout the entire festival, the proceeds of which go towards paying for the festivities.
For more information on St. Urho's Day celebrations, visit friendsoffinland.org/st-urho-2020