FITCHBURG — The Finnish Center at Saima Park is kicking off the summer season with their annual “Kesäjuhla” Summer Festival featuring games, music, food, and fellowship.
The festival will be held on Sunday, June 18, at the park, located at 67 Scott Road.
As part of the festival, George Mirijanian will run the Dana M. Sulin Memorial Chess Tournament. Registration for the tournament is from 8:45 a.m. until 9:15 a.m., with the tournament to begin at 9:30 a.m.
Other festivities will begin at 10 a.m.
Outdoor games for all will include “mölkky”, a Finnish lawn-bowling game, and “sanko hiipiminen”, a water-carry obstacle course. Corn hole, horseshoes, and badminton will also be available.
In addition to the games, festival goers can try their luck at the basket raffle, enjoy some coffee and Finnish coffee bread, cinnamon rusks, or cupcakes for sale, shop the Raivaaja book and music collection, and chat with artist Jen Swan, a teaching artist and muralist.
Swan’s recent paintings explore art and ecology as she portrays the web of interrelationships in our environment.
Through plein air landscapes and wildlife studies, Swan said she wishes to creatively propose new possibilities for coexistence, sustainability, and healing.
“Jen’s ancestors, the Swan “Joutsen” and Yleva families, were some of the original members of Sovittaja Park, the summer cottages and saunas of the Finnish community on Demond Pond in Rutland,” said Lorna Sulin, board member of the Finnish Center at Saima Park. “Many of her landscapes draw inspiration from this peaceful place and we are excited to have her work on display, with some for sale.”
Hot dogs and veggie dogs with chips will be sold for $5, beginning at 11 a.m. A delicious chicken barbecue dinner will be served from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Reservations must be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 978-407-9690. The dinner will include half chicken, potato salad, cucumber salad, cranberry sauce, bread and butter, the cost is $15. Quantity is limited. Hot and cold beverages are available for $2 each.
The Fitchburg State University Community Orchestra, under the direction of Hildur Schilling, will delight the crowd from 11 a.m. until noon.
Folk group Oivan Ilo will play from noon until 1 p.m. and will accompany the Revontulet Folk Dancers during this time as they perform a few dances and invite the audience to join them in others.
At 1 p.m., Roy Helander will recite a poem titled “Letter to my Grandparents” by Marlene Ekola Gerberick.
The Finnish Center at Saima Park scholarships will then be awarded.
“Those who attended last year’s concert by singer-songwriter-pianist dynamo Eeppi Ursin will be happy to know that she will be back this year with another rousing performance,” added Sulin.
Originally from Finland and now living in New York City, Ursin was chosen as Finlandia Foundation National’s 2022 Performer of the Year.
The concert will be held from 1:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.
“Finland’s winters are cold and have few hours of daylight, so the ‘midnight sun’ of the summer solstice is cause for celebration,” said Sulin. “Ever since many Finns emigrated to the Fitchburg area around 1900, their descendants have continued to enjoy getting together to celebrate summer with food, entertainment, and cultural activities. We welcome the larger community to join in the fun.”
For more information about the Finnish Center at Saima Park, visit saima-park.org or see “Friends of Saima Park” on Facebook.