The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


April 29, 2021

Children at a past FAFF festival in Naselle dance around a maypole. Photo courtesy of Karli Nelson.

Fun report about my Aunt Hattie in Phoenix. She's in her 90's and still lives alone in her own house. She was happy to hear I'm writing this column, so I gave her a subscription. She called to tell me her first Eagle had arrived. When I asked her if she read my column, she said, "Oh yes." Then she reported that she "really likes the Sheriff's Report." For someone who lives in a huge city, imagine how the Sheriff's Report must impress you. I love her dearly and remember her house in Anderson, Indiana, with a screened in porch that was so fun to sleep in at night. This was before air conditioning, so sleeping on that porch was such a relief from the humid heat. She wanted to know how to say Wahkiakum because it's "not a word in the dictionary." Love you, Aunt Hattie.

Breaking news: Naselle Wellness Center update: Demolition scheduled to start on Monday for areas inside the old Bank of Pacific that will be renovated for the new Wellness Center. That's the new clinic's title. Larry Cohen, CEO at Ocean Beach Hospital sent the news on Friday so I know we're all eager to watch it happening right before our eyes. His goal is to have it open in about three months, and I know we will enjoy watching the ribbon being cut.

Busy Weekend Ahead: Spring Festival on Saturday, May 1 at Naselle Lutheran Church from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Baked goods, soup and salad to go will be available, as well as plants and flowers, quilts and other handcrafts. I bought one of their quilts a few years ago and it is the best one I use. It's soft (flannel top) and warm (heavy backing) so I can recommend them. They also wash easily. Proceeds will help fund the Church's new roof. See you there!

FAFF Vintage T-shirts Sale on Saturday: The always popular T-shirts from the Finnish American Folk Festivals (FAFF) of the past will be on sale on Saturday as well, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the FAFF Community Center, formerly the Congregational Church, on Parpala Road past the library. This will be at the same time as the Spring Festival so you can have a great time seeing lots of folks and finding food and fashion by visiting these two events.

Lasagna Dinner on Sunday: The Wahkiakum Fair Foundation is hosting a Lasagna Dinner at Rosburg Hall on Sunday from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Dinner is by donation. There will also be a silent auction and bake sale. Proceeds go to bringing the Professional Bull Riding event to the fairgrounds next summer.

Finnish American Folk Festival Update: Jennifer Boggs, chair of the 2022 Festival sent news of how the FAFF Committee is planning for the next festival. These bi-annual events are huge for Naselle and the entire area. It was scheduled for 2020, but the covid closures cancelled it. The Festival Committee assures us it will be held in 2022 with many of the 2020 events, lecturers, dancers and artists hopefully still planning to come. People travel to this festival from all over the world, including Finland of course. My favorite fun event is the children going around the maypole. Children really enjoy all the family activities. They dress in traditional costumes and in the process, learn about the Finnish history of their own families. Also at the festival, you will have an opportunity to eat traditional food, see traditional dancing and come to a dance on Saturday night that's always fun for the whole family. The purpose of the festival is to gather with people who know and understand Finnish history and traditions and to have fun with people who want to learn about the Finnish culture. And of course, there is the important aspect of following everyone's genealogy to see if you can meet a new relative.

It can take two years to plan and set up lecturers, displays, and arrange for plenty of parking. There is always emphasis on the early logging and fishing that Finns engaged in when they came, many directly from Finland. This area reminded those early Finns of their homeland so they came with logging and fishing experience and used those skills to build a life here. Our local Finnish community, based in Naselle, is only a few generations away from those immigrant homesteaders who came here for a better life for themselves and their children. Many of the local homes, churches and values in the area are carried on by great grandchildren of the early settlers who came in the early 1900's.

We are losing many of our old timers, like Orval Wirkkala, who died just last week. With them goes the knowledge of details, the stories, the lifelong relationships they loved to talk about, and their stories of trips coming here, remembered years of overwhelming resources, and the love of family and community. The Finnish American Folk Festival is a celebration of those who gave us our lives today. It is an honor for us to honor them. The festival is always an opportunity to us to learn and impress on our children how blessed they are to be a continuation of the Finnish life.

In closing, Jennifer mentioned that FAFF is always welcoming new members for just $10 per year or $20 for a family. Your membership keeps this valuable tradition alive and funds many of the special offerings at the festivals. Also, there are several co-chair positions needing to be filled to help with planning. With the addition of the new Naselle Community Center (NCC) sponsored and owned by FAFF, there is room to expand the committee that is organizing activities there as well, and while it is part of FAFF, they want it to be a center for all of the community to use. Their next meeting is May 23 at 3 p.m. and anyone interested is welcome to come and see what the FAFF organization is about, whether virtually or in person, provided we stay in Phase 3 in response to the covid pandemic. FAFF holds meetings at the Naselle Community Center and on Zoom, so even those at a distance can take part. For your questions, contact Jennifer Boggs at (360) 484-3679.

Senior lunch at Rosburg Hall: Thanks to Kay Chamberlain in last week's Eagle for reminding everyone that the CAP Senior Lunch Program at Rosburg Hall every Thursday is available for any seniors, whether local or from East or West. The Community Action Program (CAP) offers take out lunches from noon to 12:15. One of these days, I hope sooner rather than later, we will sit together for those lunches as we used to when life was normal. Today's lunch is: Pulled pork sandwich, sliced carrots, baked beans, potato salad and sliced oranges.

Word of the Week: Children.


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