Finnish Heritage Museum to mark anniversary, Finland’s 100 years of independence at dinner

The Finnish Heritage Museum in Fairport Harbor Village has an anniversary dinner planned to mark its 15 years of existence, along with 100 years of Finnish independence.

The celebration dinner is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at Zion Lutheran Church , 508 Eagle St. in Fairport Harbor Village - writes

Finnish Heritage Museum President Lasse Hiltunen said the dinner isn’t just to commemorate the museum, its 15 years of existence and 10 years in its physical location at 301 High St.

It’s also part of the northern European nation’s 365-day 100th birthday party.

“Our celebration dinner on Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Zion Lutheran Church will continue our yearlong celebration of Finland’s 100th, FHM’s 15th birth year, and the 10th anniversary of the grand opening of the museum building,” Hiltunen wrote in an Oct. 5 e-mail exchange.

Although the museum’s concept has been alive and well among area Finns for some 15 years now, its occupancy at the building and its accoutrements on the corner of High and Third streets has cemented its influence throughout Lake County and certainly to Finns around the world as a cultural asset to people of all nationalities, Hiltunen said.

“The physical museum at 301 High St. has become a marker for a number of reasons,” he writes. “First, the museum has become a repository of many culturally and historically significant items and wonderful displays demonstrating a healthy slice of ‘Finnishness.’ Secondly, the building, complete with its exquisite aluminum sculpture called ‘The Spirit of Finland,’ reminds the community at large that the Finns played a significant part in Fairport’s history.

“Many people have remarked that the sculpture, bathed at night in blue light, is hauntingly beautiful. It is not unusual to see visitors taking pictures of the building or moving closer up to take pictures with the sculpture in the background. It is a magnetic draw.”

The museum has been celebrating its own birthday, along with Finland’s, all year long with special performances , open-houses and even its very own commemorative pictorial postmark .

Hiltunen said he expects the museum to continue to experience growth, thanks to its dedicated membership.

“FHM will continue to grow and flourish because the dedicated volunteers love to contribute to a living institution,” he writes. “Our genealogical department, affectionately known as the Genies, have grown that family historical collection from a start of 24 families to thousands, easily filling many, many cabinet drawers with genealogical data all cross referenced.”

He added that the plot just outside of the building, itself, has become an extension of its presence in the village.

“Also, the land to the south of the building, which was simply a plot of land with a few picnic tables, has now become ‘Finn Hollow Park,’ ” his email reads.

He said he’s happy to see the museum’s growth over the years and is especially proud of some of its most recent accomplishments.

“Having been associated with FHM for the last 14 years as an officer and member, I have witnessed the museum grow in membership, in activity, and most assuredly in community stature. When it first began, its membership was barely in double digits, but now it has passed the 350 mark and continues to grow,” he writes. “Our in-house programs have become more sophisticated and interesting. We also have taken part in stage productions — two of them — and finished up this year with Dancing Fairport , accessible on YouTube under that title . It was just one of the events we produced this year marking our 2017 celebratory year.”

He said if there’s anything he wants people unfamiliar with the museum to know, it’s that it’s open to everyone, not just people of Finnish descent.

“You do not have to be a Finn to visit,” he writes. “In fact, if that is an issue, we will tag you with a Finnish name so you can be comfortable. More likely than not, your new name will probably have ‘maki’ as a suffix. Stop in for good Finnish coffee; we have our own brand, freshly ground. We also have a gift shop.”

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