January 2007 News
Artist Mary Biekkola Wright, Rick Kauppila named 2007 Heikinpäivä Hankooki Heikkis
HANCOCK -- Hankooki Heikki is an honor given by the City of Hancock’s Finnish Theme Committee each year at the annual Heikinpäivä
mid-winter festival. It is bestowed on a person or people whose commitment to preserving and promoting Finnish culture in the area goes above and beyond
"normal" efforts. The honoree (or honorees) preside(s) over the festivities, wearing the crown and robe that come with the honor.
Through the years, Mary Biekkola Wright has been affectionately known as the
"chair lady," or "the woman with all the mittens." Because of these efforts and their impact on the area’s Finnish community, she and her trusty behind-the-scenes helper Rick Kauppila are the 2007 Hankooki
One of several colorful mittens from Mary Biekkola Wright's art
project decorates the sidewalk along Quincy Street in preparation for the 2007 Heikinpäivä
festivities. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)
"I think it's a great honor, of course," Wright said of the
Hankooki Heikki designation. "I think I'm going to really enjoy the day,
particularly riding in the sleigh pulled by reindeer. How cool is that!"
Wright spearheaded the project "Mittens, Mittens, Mittens" that became a highlight of Heikinpäivä 2006 and helped make the festival one of the most successful ever. Hundreds of people from around the region crafted unique mittens, then marched with their creations in the Heikinpäivä parade.
Wright also said she was pleased the Finnish Theme Committee chose to
recognize Rick Kauppila, a former Hancock resident who now owns and operates U.P. Fabricating in Rock,
Mich. Kauppila designed and created the hundreds of frames that allowed the mittens to be displayed on Hancock’s sidewalks and storefronts for much of the winter.
The mittens are appearing along Quincy Street in Hancock again this year in
preparation for the Heikinpäivä festivities.
"I would be nowhere without Rick," Wright noted.
In the Community Arts Center in Hancock, Mary Biekkola Wright's assistants Betty
Holmbo, left, of Hancock, and
Alisa Slis of Painesdale, owner of Sierra's Treasures, a consignment shop across
from the Arts Center, prepare the mitten, "Fantastic Bird," created by
artist Ann Patrick, a student at Finlandia University's School of Art and
Design, for Heikinpäivä. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)
Wright’s past work in "Finnishness" includes the blue-and-white chairs that graced the grounds at the FinnFests in Marquette, Michigan in 1996 and 2005, as well as the Ancestor’s Clothesline project she led and displayed at Finn Grand Fest 2000 in Toronto, Ont.
She’s currently leading an international art exchange in which participants paint artwork onto doors that
are or will be displayed publicly; the project includes the cities of Hancock and Marquette in Upper Michigan, along with their sister cities Porvoo and Kajaani in
Artist Mary Biekkola Wright, right, invited the community to participate in
her door project at the Spring Art and Music Festival last June in Houghton.
Assisting her with this colorful door design are, counter-clockwise, Becky
Darling of Chassell, Sue Ellen Kingsley of Hancock and Darling's sister Connie
Petty of Keokuk, Iowa, who was visiting the area last summer. (Photo © 2006 Michele Anderson)
Kauppila’s and Wright’s names will also be added to a plaque the Finnish Theme Committee purchased this year; the plaque lists each Hankooki Heikki since the award’s inception in 1998. Tentative plans are for the plaque to be displayed year-round at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock.
Heikinpäivä events underway
Enrichment classes have been happening all week, but there is still time to enroll in the bones workshop,
slated for 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, at First United Methodist Church in Hancock. The class will teach
participants the art of playing the traditional percussion instruments. To register, call (906) 487-7505,
or simply show up that day.
On Friday, Jan. 19, don't miss the Gallen-Kallela exhibit opening reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the
Finnish American Heritage Center gallery. It's free and open to the public.
Friday's events also include tango lessons by Ralph Tuttila, at 6 p.m. at the South Range Community
Center (above the Fire Hall). Cost is $15 per couple, $8 for singles (partner not necessary). Class size
is limited only by available space. To register, call (906) 487-7505 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the lessons, dancers can enjoy Karhun Tanssi -- The Bear Dance, from 7:15 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.,
featuring Finn Hall, also at the South Range Community Center. $7 at the door. Kivajat Dancers will
perform at the beginning of the dance.
Club Finndigo, a dinner/movie featuring Pelicanman, will be from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Calumet
Theater. Film critic Joe Kirkish calls Pelicanman "a charming, all family film." Dinner and film: $16; Movie only: $5. For information, call (906) 337-2166.
Saturday, January 20 is when Heikinpäivä takes on its most public form. The tori (marketplace, featuring
ethnic crafts, foods and Finnish items, will be held from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Finnish American
Heritage Center as well as the First United Methodist Church in Hancock. The kids' favorite, the
Vipukelkka (Whipsled) will also be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Hancock Middle School lawn.
Beginning at 11 a.m. a parade will head down Quincy Street. Participants should line up at BRIDGE school
at 10:30 a.m. Cash prizes will be awarded.
Following the parade will be wife-carrying and boot-throwing contests on the Hancock Middle School lawn.
The Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club invites Heikinpäivä attendees to the Maasto Hiihto trails from 9 a.m. to 5
p.m. Saturday and Sunday for leisure classic skiing. The ski chalet will also be open.
The Talvitohinat (Winter scramble) Cross-country ski race will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, at the
Michigan Tech University trails, Houghton. For information, call (906) 482-0820. The ever-popular Polar
Bear Dive will begin at 3 p.m. on the Hancock waterfront, near the Ramada Inn.
A few tickets ($16 each) still remain for the Seisovapöytä (Finnish buffet) at 6 p.m. Saturday in
Finlandia Hall, Finlandia University. A silent auction will be held during the banquet, which will be
followed, at 8 p.m., by a Tanssit (dance) featuring Wilho Kilpela and Friends. Dance only tickets are $5.
The final official event will be St. Henrik's Commemorative Church Service at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 21,
at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock.
For more information about Hankooki Heikki, or any aspect of Heikinpäivä, call (906) 482-0248 or visit
the Heikinpäivä Web site.
Community Arts Center to be open all day Jan. 20 for Heikinpäivä
The Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock will hold special hours from 10 a.m. to
5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20, for Heikinpäivä visitors. Among their exhibits,
in the window of the Kerredge Gallery, is a display of essays written by third
graders at Hancock's Barkell Elementary School for a contest on the question,
"What is Heikinpäivä?" All the essay entries are displayed, and
winners will be marked with ribbons.
At Hancock's Community Arts Center, Carol Freeman, owner of Northwoods
Sporting Goods in Hancock and a teacher's aide at Barkell Elementary School, and
Cynthia Coté, Community Arts Center director, post the essays on Heikinpäivä
written by the third graders. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)
Also on display through January 31 at the Community Arts Center's Republic
Gallery is an exhibit of artwork by Ontonagon Area Schools.
"Identity: The Condition of Being Oneself or Itself, and Not Another" is the result of a
nine-week collaboration between community artist Kerri Corser, art educator Melissa Hronkin and students at Ontonagon Area Schools. All lessons presented had the theme of “identity” and the exhibit includes artwork by third, fifth, eighth grade and high school students.
These colorful masks are part of the exhibit, "Identity: The Condition of Being Oneself or Itself, and Not Another"
in the Republic Gallery of the Community Arts Center in Hancock through Jan. 31.
The artists are students in Ontonagon Area Schools. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)
This fun and lively youth show features rope dolls made from sea grass and rags, masks, metalwork with glass beads brought together with a clay slab box or
“niche” and traditional cloth dolls.
The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock.
Editor's Note: For photos of the 2006 Heikinpäivä celebration, see
the February 9, 2006, Keweenaw Now article, "Heikinpäivä mittens decorate Hancock."
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