Nation’s cold spot celebrates Laskiainen sliding festival


Northern Minnesota has drawn national headlines all month for its subzero Martian cold and hip hotspot catering cross-promotion. This weekend it will be the site of a beloved northern Minnesota Iron Range tradition: The Laskiainen Finnish sliding festival in Palo.

Laskiainen is a midwinter custom that came over with the Finnish immigrants who were among the settlers of large parts of northern Minnesota. The Finns were important players in Iron Range history, driving the early labor movement. Finnish people spent many years blacklisted from working in the mines for organizing strikes and settled much of the hard, beautiful land around the central cities of the Iron Range — places like Cherry, Zim, Balsam (the places of my childhood) and Palo, where you can catch this unique high speed sliding hill and authentic Finnish food and music.

What is it? Something to do when weary of winter.

The Loon Lake Community Center outside Biwabik and Aurora is the hub of Laskiainen. There are a lot of ways to get there. Ask a Finn.

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