From FinnFest USA:
Joensuu, in August 2020, was going to be an awesome time for Americans to connect to contemporary environmental issues and to explore Karelian culture, one of the small global cultures. Following that, FinnFest USA was going to carry back what it learned and use it to develop its next festival, in Seattle in 2021…the synergy of a smaller festival feeding and energizing a larger gathering a year later.
FinnFest USA, the exact opposite of social distancing, brings together people looking for ways to commemorate and deepen their own connections to contemporary Finland and Finnish America. This common interest in a small nation state and a small culture guides the weekend events planned for America’s only annual national festival specifically devoted to Finnish-related topics and experiences.
Did we need to remember that planning should also embrace uncertainty? Uncertainty about things like rain? For sure. We have always factored rain into our planning. Uncertainty about other unexpected natural disasters…like the Red River Valley floods of 1997, their unplanned effect on the attendance at the Minot, North Dakota FinnFest USA, or the tornado-like storm that destroyed much of the 2000 outdoor tori and injured vendors in Toronto?….FinnFest USA has learned lessons from those events. These experiences have been telling us to embrace uncertainty.
When plans like ours are upset, a quiet time emerges. This unexpected time teaches humility to accept what we can accomplish in the midst of global-wide uncertainty. Together, all of us, friends of FinnFest USA, have time to slow down and consider together how to reaffirm FinnFest USA’s goals, to see the quiet truth beneath FinnFest USA, now close to 40 years old.
We have a year now to give new clarity to our goals, both short term, (for Joensuu in 2021 and Seattle in 2022) and long term as we consider who will be FinnFest USA’s audience in 2030.