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Thursday, July 31, 2008

2008 Finnish-American Folk Festival Is A Hit!

Although my spouse and I are of Japanese and Japanese-America ancestry, we had made plans this last weekend to attend the 2008 Finnish-American Folk Festival in Naselle, WA July 25-27.

Left: Swede Finnish author Agnes Rands Warren. Photo by Mizu Sugimura.

Agnes Rands Warren
, author of Where The Huckleberries Grow (2000), Linden Press, a dramatized family history relating the experience of her immigrant parents in the Pacific Northwest, and its sequel Even Seagulls Cry (2005) Linden Press, covering life on the Home Front from 1939-1946, was just one of the interesting speakers during cultural programming at the bi-annual event.

During the short break in the vendors room Warren was asked to share a little about her books. She said it became increasingly important as the years went by to honor the legacy of her Finnish and Swede Finnish parents and their generation by preserving and passing-on some of the events and stories associated with their respective experiences in the United States as a gift to the young people in her family and the community at large.

As researching and recording what is available of my own family and ethnic roots has been a lifelong interest since grade school days when I asked for the history of my own grandparents journey to the United States as a child, only to be told my folks, aunts and uncles didn't know the details because "No one thought to ask" during the days they were coming up, Warren is a woman after my own heart.

Hubby and I had a lovely time during our visit to the festival in Naselle and highly recommend it when it returns to the Southwest Washington event again in 2010. For more 2008 festival pictures and more detailed information about the events in Naselle, this link will take you to my personal blog.

Below: Fresh festival floral decor colorfully echoes the clever theme the 2008 festival which was "Knee Deep In Finns" and a darling illustration of just that - by local artist Debbi Littlefield was featured prominently on festival posters, t-shirts and other publicity for the past two years. Photo copyright 2008 by Mizu Sugimura.


Stephanie Frieze said...

Sadly, according to this weeks Chinook Observer, the weekly newspaper of the Long Beach Peninsula and Naselle, the Finnish Festival is in danger of becoming history itself if more young people do not get involved in the planning and executing of the event. The older generation is growing weary of the same old hands being responsible and is looking for some new blood and fresh idea. One can only hope that the younger generation will step up to the plate and continue to celebrate the traditions of Finnish Americans in Southwest Washington.

M. Sugimura said...

Stephanie -

Thanks for the comment and red-flag!
Could I trouble you to send me the clipping? I attended an interesting seminar on the future of ethnic and community festivals in small or rural areas and it would be up the same alley.

Stephanie Frieze said...

No problem, Mizu. I've got your number. :-)

Kim Thompson said...

Hi Mizu:

My Swede-Finn mother-in-law has this very book you describe and I believe has even met this author as well. She and her family relate so much to that book!

That's sad about the festival; I wonder if this festival could partner with larger city groups to the spark alive? I know locally we have the Swede-Finn Historical Society in which my in-laws are members.


Lorraine Hart said...

I particularly loved that last photo Mizu.

I haven't been able to go so very far afield of late, so it's wonderful to have friends who will take you along, in the virtual sense...thank you!

I believe in keeping traditions...but also that traditions must grow and move a little with every generation, to be relevant and carried. Perhaps if the young people are asked to develop some new things for the festivals, they would be more inclined to be involved and weave the new thread with the old. Just a thought.