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Menahga to celebrate St. Urho this weekend

Audience members cheer for a bar stool racer during last year's St. Urho celebrations. The annual event brings visitors from all over the area to participate in the race and other events throughout the weekend. (Enterprise photo)

"Grasshopper, grasshopper, go to hell!"

Those were the words uttered by St. Urho, the legend who chased grasshoppers out of ancient Finland to save grape crops and the jobs of Finnish vineyard workers.

Since then, the legend has been celebrated for more than 50 years across northern Minnesota.

This year, St. Urho Day celebrations will begin Friday, March 13 and last through Saturday, March 14 in Menahga.

The town will turn royal purple and Nile green, the colors representing grapes and grasshoppers.

"It's kind of amazing. Really something to see," said Dorothy Ollanketo, one of the organizers of the events.

Visitors from all over the area and the Twin Cities will come up to participate in a variety of events.

King and queen coronation will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Menahga School. Entertainment will follow for the rest of the night.

A pancake and sausage breakfast is scheduled for 7 to 10 a.m. Saturday at the Menahga Senior/Community Center. A freewill offering will be collected to help revamp the senior center.

Eight volleyball teams will participate in a tournament at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Menahga School.

After the games, prepare to see the "knights of Menahga strip down to their purple underwear," Ollanketo said of the changing of the guards event that's scheduled for noon and will take place at the St. Urho statute located on Highway 71 and Helsinki Boulevard.

A St. Urho parade will start at 12:30 p.m. beginning at the senior center and running down Main street.

The bar stool race that brings visitors from all over the area will begin right after the parade at Spirit Lake beach. To sign up, call Bruce Burkman at 564-5535. Participants can also register by noon Saturday before the race begins.

The rest of the afternoon will include "kolf," the winter version of golf. A nine-hole golf course will be set up on the frozen Spirit Lake.

The Menahga VFW is also planning to serve supper with music performances, a meat raffle, bingo games and trivia on Saturday night.

A mojakka meal, served from 2 to 8 p.m., will keep the St. Urho spirits high.

The band "Tepetricy" will end the celebrations with performances from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at the Menahga VFW.