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Menahga will celebrate Finnish saint

"Hein?sirkka,hein?sirkka, mene t??lt? hiiteen!" In English this legendary Finnish translates into "grasshopper, grasshopper, go away!" According to legend, before the last glacial period when grapes grew wild in Finland, Saint Urho uttered these ...

"Heinäsirkka,heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen!"

In English this legendary Finnish translates into "grasshopper, grasshopper, go away!"

According to legend, before the last glacial period when grapes grew wild in Finland, Saint Urho uttered these words when he chased a plague of grasshoppers out of the Finnish vineyards with a pitchfork saving the grapes and jobs of the Finnish vineyard workers.

For this act, Saint Urho is celebrated among Finnish communities in the United States on March 16.

Menahga is one such place known for their traditional festivities.

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This year organizations in Menahga have a variety of events planned for Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17.

According to Dorothy Ollanketo of Menahga's Civic and Commerce, events will be starting with a corned beef and cabbage dinner at 5 p.m. Friday, March 16 at the VFW.

Following the dinner, a St. Urho talent show will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Menahga High School.

"Anyone can enter the talent show. It is a good time to show your talent off," said Dorothy.

To register for the talent show or for more information, contact Jan Hillstrom at 564-4930 or 564-4378.

During the talent show, the St. Urho's Day king and queen will be crowned as well.

There is a full day of events planned for Saturday, March 17 starting with the Menahga Area Museum pancake breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. at the Menahga VFW.

Menahga's annual St. Urho Volleyball Tournament will start at 9 a.m. at the Menahga High School gymnasium. This is an eight-team co-ed tournament with a $30 per team entry fee. Call Heidi Huotari by Thursday, March 15 at 218-837-5414 to register.

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Cheweys Restaurant in Menahga will be hosting a pancake-eating contest from 10 to 11 a.m.

According to Dorothy, this is the first year of the pancake-eating contest.

Anyone interested in participating in the contest should be at the restaurant before 10 a.m.

The Nytes of St. Urho will be participating in the "changing of the guards" at noon.

The "changing of the guards" is a tradition that brings a new meaning to the word, "changing."

"They (the Nytes) march down to the St. Urho statue, take off their clothes right down to their purple underwear and exchange clothing," Dorothy explained.

The Saint Urho statue is located alongside Highway 71 and Helsinki Boulevard.

A parade will commence at 12:30 p.m. For those interested in participating there is no need to sign up ahead of time. Line up in front of the senior center before the parade and keep the Saint Urho theme, which includes grasshoppers, grapes, pitchforks and the traditional colors of royal purple and Nile green.

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These colors are said to represent the grapes and grasshoppers.

The bar stool races, which are sponsored by the Sebeka-Menahga Relics Baseball Team, will follow the parade between 1 and 1:30 p.m. on Spirit Lake beach.

Monetary prizes will be awarded along with other various items.

Participants must be at least 18 years of age. The entry form must accompany the entry fee. Registration is $25 for early entry and $35 on the day of the race.

For more information about the race, contact Bruce or Mary Burkman at 564-5535.

A Kolf Tournament will take place at 2 p.m. on the frozen Spirit Lake.

"A nine-hole golf course is all on Spirit Lake," Dorothy explained. "Anyone can join in the fun."

The Menahga Fire Department is sponsoring this event.

To end the day of events, a mojakka and flatbread supper, sponsored by the Lions Club, will begin 4 p.m. at the Menahga VFW.

Throughout the entire day Saturday the Cottage House Café in Menahga will be serving mojakka as well. Mojakka is a Finnish soup or stew, which is made of fish.

According to the legend, Saint Urho gained his strength to drive the grasshoppers out of Finland by eating mojakka.

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