This weekend marked the midpoint of winter and the city of Hancock celebrated with the annual Heikinpäivä festival.
Although temperatures barely got above zero, a great crowd showed up for Heikinpäivä this weekend. The event commemorates Saint Henrik’s Day. Saint Henrik is the patron saint of Finland. A Finnish–themed parade marched down Quincy Street in downtown Hancock, with David Maki, this year’s Hankooki Heikki riding alongside his daughter in the world’s largest kicksled. Finnish Theme Committee Co–Chair Jim Kurtti says it’s a local event that uses the Finnish culture to bring the community together.
“It’s one of the few events in the Houghton–Hancock area that’s exclusively a Hancock event and celebrates the fact that Hancock has a very significant history in Finnish American life,” Kurtti said.
Outside, there were many events going on as well. Leah from Atlantic Mine and Aidan from Hancock were the only two children brave enough to compete in the kicksled race. Then there was the whipsled, wood carving and the wife–carrying contest.
But all eyes were on Portage Lake for the return of the Polar Bear Dive. Most of the around 50 participants say it wasn’t that bad considering the weather. But the grand prize winner was Nick Vieau, an offensive lineman at Michigan Tech.
“It was awesome. It was definitely a bucket list experience. And I’m definitely glad I did it,” Vieau said.
For those who wanted to stay indoors, there were two Tori Markets where people can shop for many different arts and crafts. Plus, local restaurants were present and for those with a sweet tooth, and the selection was immense. Clearly, the Finnish culture is going strong in the Copper Country.