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Finnish culture shines in Sudbury

Thousands travel from near and far for Suomi Fest

Kari Jamsa, a member of the Canadian Finnish Cultural Association, may have had the most unique mode of transportation to attend Greater Sudbury's Suomi Fest.

He biked about 1,000 kilometres from Thunder Bay, leaving June 5 and arriving June 16.

“I am raising funds for the Canadian Finnish Cultural Association, which is the main organization that looks after where the festival is held each year,” he said.
In his younger days, Jamsa said the festival was very sports oriented. He used to play soccer and compete in track and field events.

“As we got older, most of my comrades ended up joining choirs to sing,” he said. “I have no singing abilities, so I wanted to keep up the sporting heritage of the festival, and that's why I decided to bike here from Thunder Bay.”

Jamsa is asking anyone who wasn't able to make it to the festivities to make a $10 donation to support Finnish culture in Canada.

“We are happy that Canada is a country where we can celebrate our heritage,” he said.

While today marks the end of the Suomi Fest, thousands of people have been traveling to Cambrian College for numerous events. Saturday was more of an educational day, said Tim Nordberg, chair of the Finnish Summer Festival committee. Sunday, it was all about the music.

He said he was amazed at how many people there were attending the events. 

“I'm really glad,” he said. “It took a lot of Sisu to get it going, but once it started, I was surprised by how the momentum just continued, and it brought in people from all over Canada and the United States.”

There are a number of cities that have shared the responsibility of hosting Suomi Fest in the past, with the festival rotating each year to a different location.

However, some of those cities are no longer going to host the festival, and Greater Sudbury was on the brink of opting out, as well, Nordberg said.

“People just aren't coming to the festival any more,” he said. “The committee wanted to give it one more go, and look what happened.” 

In fact, the Canadian Finnish Cultural Association is looking to Greater Sudbury to host next year's festival, but that likely isn't in the cards, he said.

“It's too soon,” Nordberg said.

Jamsa said he is confident it will continue for years to come, although it may have to change in order for it to be sustainable.

“We are very glad that Sudbury took on this year's festival.”

Arron Pickard

About the Author: Arron Pickard

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