Tervolas driven to keep Finn Creek strong
Keeping the Finnish traditions alive is the overall theme of Finn Creek. The annual summer folk festival celebrates the local heritage during this two-day celebration south of New York Mills.
With many volunteers involved in keeping the museum alive throughout the year and this weekend, one family is deeply committed to Finn Creek. Ken and Karen Tervola of New York Mills have been instrumental in organizing the Finn Creek Summer Folk Festival.
Like many Finns growing up in the area, the Tervolas have a strong connection to the heritage and have passed it along to their children. Daughter Amy Tervola-Hultberg, along with her husband, Adam, have joined Ken and Karen on the main organizing committee for this weekend's festival.
Ken, a skilled carpenter, is one of seven who serves on the Finn Creek Board of Directors, and Karen, who handles kitchen duties during the festival, said they became deeply involved with the museum about 11 years ago.
"We're interested in preserving the heritage," Karen said. Putting together a successful summer folk festival each year is a big part of preserving that heritage and local Finnish culture. Although the Tervolas do much of the organizing for the event, they both point out the event relies on many volunteers.
"We deeply appreciate everybody who helps," Karen said. "Because it takes a lot of people, including those that come as guests. We need the guests. They're a huge part of this successful festival."
With Finn Creek full membership around 50-60, the Tervolas estimate a core group of about 20 who do the brunt of the work for the summer festival. And when it comes to getting things done, they say there are many who do the behind-the-scenes organizing.
"The definition of volunteering is different for everyone, and it takes the help of many people in pulling the festival off," Amy said.
People like Roger Bentley, who Ken called "instrumental in keeping Finn Creek alive."
"He comes here about five days a week to make sure everything is going OK and to help with visitors," Ken said.
Bentley even makes coffee every morning, does a lot of the painting at the museum, as well as general cleaning and maintenance.
Ken pointed out the original farmstead at the museum is part of Bentley's heritage.
The museum grounds need regular upkeep all summer, particularly the large lawn. Bob Maki is in charge of the mowing and puts in a lot of volunteer time to help keep the grounds looking well-groomed.
The Tervolas said they have committed themselves to putting together a successful festival each year because of their strong connection to the Finnish heritage.
Both Ken and Karen grew up speaking Finnish as their first language at home, and at the same time trying to learn English. As Amy points out, growing up speaking a second language was not always a positive, especially when it came to school.
"I was strictly speaking Finn when I entered first grade in Mills," Ken recalled. "The teachers did not allow kids to speak Finnish. So I sat in the corner and got an A in conduct."
Karen fared a little better in school since she had learned English earlier from an older brother.
The Tervolas see their deep involvement in Finn Creek as an opportunity to keep the Finnish heritage alive, they said.
Karen books the entertainment for the festival and is in charge of food preparation. Ken can be found operating the sawmill, something he has done most of his life.
Amy has a strong connection to the heritage through her parents. She teaches Finnish at the Salolampi Language Village each year as part of the Concordia Language Village. She is also quite involved with the festival. Amy and Adam Tervola-Hultberg order products and goods for the store at Finn Creek. The last couple years, they have brought modern Finnish goods to the store like Finnish glassware and textiles. Adam also acts as emcee during the festival.
Along with helping at the store, Amy is an instrumental figure with Karen in the kitchen during the festival.
New things at Finn Creek this weekend include some general improvements like the expanded kitchen. Ken utilized his carpentry skills to create more kitchen space and make moving around a little easier.
The Finn Creek Summer Folk Festival opens Saturday morning, Aug. 29 with a French toast/pancake/sausage breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Area crafters will be in or near the sheds all day. Log sawing, blacksmithing, rug weaving, threshing oats, and small gas engine demonstrations, which run all day, begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday.
The Heinola Store (gift shop), schoolhouse, chapel, town hall, tours of museum buildings, horsedrawn wagon rides, and antique equipment on display open at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday.
The sanctioned children's tractor pull is at 1:30 p.m.
Saturday's entertainment includes Chromatic Fare at 9 a.m.; D.L. Cloggers at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Mary Prachar Band at 12 noon and again at 2:30 p.m.
A variety of food will be available all day in the dining hall. A Finnish American Pasty Lunch is served from 12-1:15 p.m.
Sunday's activities begin with a continental breakfast at 5:30 a.m. A sing-along in the chapel, featuring English and Finnish hymns, runs 9-9:45 a.m. An Ecumenical Finnish and English church service will be held in the chapel at 10 a.m.
Sunday's entertainment includes the Southern Gospel Group at 11 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. and Cannonball Paul at 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.
A hog roast dinner is served Sunday beginning at 12 noon. The antique tractor parade begins at 12:30 p.m., followed by the antique tractor pull at 1 p.m.
The festival concludes with prize drawings at 4 p.m.
Admission to Finn Creek this weekend is $4 each day for adults or $6 for both days; children 6-12, $1; and under 6 is free.
Ken and Karen Tervola, left, along withtheir daughter, Amy Tervola-Hultberg, are part of the main organizing committee for this weekend's Finn Creek Summer Folk Festivai to be held at the open-air museum south of the Mills Aug. 29-30.