St. Urho's Day celebration to focus on Finnish heritage, family, fun

The theme for Finland's festivities is "St. Urho 23 and Me." Floats in the parade Saturday will incorporate the theme.

Members of the Our Place Bar and Grill float got into the 1920s theme of the annual St. Urho's Day parade in March 2020.
Teri Cadeau / File / Lake County News-Chronicle

FINLAND, Minn. — Every year, this unincorporated community celebrates the Finnish-American mythological hero St. Urho.

Folks are busily preparing for the 48th annual St. Urho's celebration Friday through Sunday. This year's theme is "St. Urho '23 and Me."

"It's a nod to the year, 2023, but also to genealogy and ancestry, as those are both popular things right now," said festival organizer Honor Schauland. "The committee got to joking around about the St. Urho family and a bunch of fun ways to incorporate that."

You never know what you'll see in Finland. Pictured, a St. Urho's Day enthusiast pays up at Our Place restaurant during festivities in March 2019.
Katie Rohman / File / Duluth News Tribune

One such way is by creating a St. Urho family tree out of papier-mache. On it, Schauland said they placed photos of prominent people in Finland and/or those who have helped out with the festival. Most of those listed have passed away.

"It's a nice way to honor those who have helped make the festival what it is," Schauland said.


Festival attendees are encouraged, as always, to wear purple and green to signify their relation to St. Urho.

But who is this St. Urho, anyway? He's the fictitious saint of Finland who is claimed to have driven the grasshoppers out of the European nation. The holiday originated on the Iron Range in the 1950s and has spread across the state and parts of the country. The town in Lake County has been holding a celebration of the saint for almost as long and has built up its own traditions.

A lot of people have driven through town and found themselves there by accident. They'd be like 'Why is the highway shut down?' and end up watching the parade.
Festival organizer Honor Schauland

One such tradition is the crowning of Miss Helmi, who Schauland explained is "kind of St. Urho's girlfriend." The festival kicks off 6 p.m. Friday with the Miss Helmi talent show and beauty pageant. The event travels to 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.

The various restaurants and bars of Finland will also have live music and food and drink specials throughout the evening.

Events start up again Saturday morning with live music, craft vendors and the Finland Minnesota Historical Society's pancake breakfast at the Clair Nelson Center. Outdoor music will run from 11 a.m.-noon, when the parade begins.

A tractor tire-sized cheeseburger serves as bait for "grasshoppers" on pogo sticks during Finland's St. Urho's Day parade in March 2019. Finnish-Americans created St. Urho, a fictional saint who drove grasshoppers out of Finland, in the 1950s as a tongue-in-cheek play on St. Patrick's Day.
Katie Rohman / File / Duluth News Tribune

The parade starts, as usual, with a tug-of-war on the bridge across the Baptism River on state Highway 1. Schauland said the parade is essentially the largest feature of the festival.

"A lot of people have driven through town and found themselves there by accident," Schauland said. "They'd be like, 'Why is the highway shut down?' and end up watching the parade. And then they find themselves coming back every year. Because there's just a little something for everyone."

Following the parade, there will be kids games, a craft fair, music by the Northern Stars and a mojakka lunch at the Clair Nelson Center. Mojakka is a Finnish version of stew.


Music will continue by the Finland Fire Hall by Steven Solkela and the Beserk Blondes and by other artists around town for the next several hours.

Visit for the full schedule of events.

Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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