Arvo and Ritva Onermaa live in a cozy home in Hancock. Born in Finland, married in Germany, and settled in the Copper Country, they are a true example of Finnish-American hospitality.
With FinnFest quickly approaching and an apparent need for housing, the Onermaas decided to commit to hosting a visiting family in their home.
??Well, we heard that there was a need, and they??re people from Finland, and we have some space and we thought we??d be interested,?? said Ritva.
??Finnish hospitality, Copper Country hospitality, above all,?? added Arvo. ??These things don??t come around too often, and impressions tend to be lasting impressions, so we want to do the best.??
Visitors from Finland and across the states will be coming to the Keweenaw for the biggest Finnish-American event of the year, but the problem is finding a place for everyone to stay.
Charles Eshbach, a member of the FinnFest Housing Committee, says the hope is for visitors to be able to reside in an area close to all the festivities.
??To do the math, we only have two thousand, a little less than two thousand commercial beds in the two-county area, and we??re expecting four, five, six thousand, we really don??t know, of extra people coming,?? explained Eshbach.
Although the Keweenaw does provide a significant amount of commercial rooms to house people for FinnFest, there aren??t enough rooms for everybody. That??s why the FinnFest board is looking for other ways to house people, such as having someone open their home to host a family.
??It??ll be a great experience for local people to get to know somebody and make a lifelong friend,?? Eshbach said.
And Eshbach said language won??t be a barrier because many visitors will be stateside Finnish-Americans.
The Onermaas say they encourage others to open their homes as well.
??This area is unique in its way,?? Arvo said. ??It has kind of stopped from growing in a way, but yet it is growing inside. This area has much to offer to people. I trust that Finnish people that come will appreciate that this is like a touch of Finland.??
For more information on how you can host a family, contact the Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce in Houghton at (906) 482-5240.