HANCOCK, Mich. — It’s quite likely many Copper Country residents remember that big day in August 1976; that day when Finland’s president, Urho Kekkonen, visited Hancock and community members lined the highway from the airport to the city limits just to watch his motorcade pass, and waited in throngs on the Suomi College (now Finlandia University) campus just for an opportunity to shake his hand. He was the first Finnish president to visit the area (President Tarja Halonen in 2003 being the other) and likely the first foreign president to come to the Copper Country.
Just perhaps Kekkonen is coming again! That’s because on March 12, President Kekkonen will make a return to the area, visiting the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC) at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. — on the silver screen, in a way — through the Nordic Film Series showing of “Kekkonen tulee” (Kekkonen’s Coming).
On March 12, the FAHC staff will celebrate this cinematic presidential visit by showing a 2013 Finnish comedy about a Lapland community’s anticipation over an expected visit by then-President Kekkonen. The rumor mill in that small village in the 1970s is operating at full capacity and this community’s preparations aren’t exactly like those that took place in Hancock some four decades ago. Comedic antics ensue as everyone’s personal agendas rise to the surface.
It’s a fictional film, and Kekkonen himself doesn’t appear on camera, but it’s a movie anyone and everyone who was a part of Kekkonen’s 1976 Hancock visit won’t want to miss.
Along with the film screening, guests will be treated to some special St. Urho’s snacks (after all, Finnish-America’s most recognized “saint” was named after President Kekkonen, and the showing is shortly before St. Urho’s Day) along with music. There’ll be an opportunity for those who were part of the 1976 visit to share any photos they have from that significant day, and an opportunity to win some Urho-riffic prizes just before each screening by taking part in a Kekkonen look-alike contest and/or a St. Urho costume contest.
It’s not every day a president visits the Copper Country, so it’s not going to be the everyday type of Nordic Film screening at the FAHC. It’s going to be a reason to settle in to a comfortable seat with a bag of Finnish-American popcorn and have some laughs with your most presidential-looking or Urho-esque friends.
The film is open to the public; donations are appreciated. For further information, call the Heritage Center at (906) 487-7302.