In Focus: Menahga Hosts Annual St. Urho Days Festival
“St. Urho? Well, he chased the grasshoppers out of Finland! Carol, you finish,” says Arlene Arvola, a Menahga local.
Carol Waaraniemi adds, “They had big forks. They had to chase ’em out.”
Arvola says, “And kill the grasshoppers.”
“Kill the grasshoppers,” finishes Waaraniemi.
The grasshoppers and frogs have left Finland, thanks to the legendary St. Urho. Every March, Menahga celebrates the victory by throwing every single purple and green item they own for St. Urho Days.
“It’s just a tradition amongst the Finnish people to get out and have some fun and spring gets to be long the way it is, so it kind of breaks up the spring and it’s the town celebration,” says Marlene Snyder, member of the Menahga Civic and Commerce Association.
Normally, the parade is packed, but this year, a lot of the town was gone supporting the Menahga girls basketball team at the State Tournament. Still, that didn’t stop the crowd from celebrating. You’ll find loads of Finnish traditions at the festival, from games like molkky to amazing food.
Waaraniemi says, “We always have mojakka and flat bread here at the cottage house.”
“And we’ll basically sell out,” says Arvola.
There’s also a ton of contest, from selecting the St. Urho Days King and Queen to, of course, the look-a-like contest.
“This is a Finnish community, so they dress up like the statue or their version of St. Urho, and so we had a good amount of people dress up last,” says Snyder.
No one can remember exactly how long St. Urho days has been celebrated in Menahga, but it doen’t matter. It’s tradition that whenever the weekend comes around, nearly the whole town participates in some way, shape or form.
“I don’t know how many years, but it’s been a long time that it’s been going on,” says Arvola.
“It’s just kind of a fun day for everybody. It’s kind of a funny day,” add Waaraniemi.
Arvola adds with a laugh, “Everybody comes for this two minute parade!”
The parade is no doubt a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ event, but it sums up the spirit the town has for St. Urho Days. Everyone in the town comes out to celebrate, and they encourage others to join in the festivities as well.
“Next year come! Welcome to Menahga!” says Waaraniemi.
“But don’t be late for the parade ’cause you’ll miss it,” adds Arvola.