Sisu Celebration In Embarrass Still Going Strong

By KBJR News 1

June 12, 2011 Updated Jun 12, 2011 at 10:49 PM CDT

Embarrass, MN (Northland's Newscenter) - Legend has it the Finnish sport of boot tossing has its roots in a couple that had to cross a swamp with only one pair of boots.

The husband tossed them back to the wife.

The high flying footwear was one of the activities at this year's 25th annual Sisu Celebration.

"We're just celebrating our Finnish heritage. We have a lot of crafters and Finnish music," said Marlin Bjornrud, Sisu Heritage President.

Among the Finnish Americans at the Festival was a real ringer from the home country.

Leila Aalto from Superior began her journey to the U.S. via Sweden during World War Two when it looked like Russia would over run Finland.

"They decided to send all the Finnish children to Sweden to escape the war and we went to different families all of us," said Leila Aalto, a Finnish immigrant.

A party in Embarrass isn't complete without talking about cold weather so National Weather Service observer Roland "Charlie" Fowler was on hand to talk about the day in 1996 when the town almost set the Minnesota record for cold.

Embarrass was knocked out of the running when both of Fowler's official thermometers broke.

Unofficial readings went even colder than the 60 below record set just south of Tower.

"They registered two at 63. One was 62. The other was 64!"

The Korean War vet thinks he'll get another shot at the record some day and he'll be ready for it.

Chmielewski may not be a Finnish name but the Fun Time band brightened up the atmosphere anyway.

"It's a good day to come together. It's a reunion for a lot of people; a lot of Finnish people in the area," said Bjornrud.

For 100 percent Finns like Leila, the food was the biggest draw.
She had a hard time picking her favorite taste of home.

"I don't know, I suppose the kalamojakka," said Aalto.

Kalamojakka is fish stew and a bowl full is a treat for any nationality on a rare warm day in Embarrass.

This was the 25th annual Sisu Celebration in Embarrass.
Sisu is the Finnish word for intestinal fortitude or guts.