The Finnish American Folk festival association has been given a building!! This is how it happened:
Our local Congregational Church had been declining in membership over the years and was faced with maintenance costs and no pastor. A small group of remaining members got together and discussed possible options for their beloved church building. They wanted to donate the church to a local non -profit organization and wanted it to be used in a way that would provide a benefit to the Naselle community.
The Finn Fest group was approached with the idea of the gift of the building and the church members calculated and offered 3 years of maintenance costs to be used for the upkeep of the building.
After months of exploring and answering questions from both groups, a subcommittee from Finn Fest worked together with the Congregational Church members to bring to rest the concerns expressed by the community and Finn Fest members. The subcommittee contacted the Department of Revenue, Pacific County, the Strand Insurance agency and the help of a local lawyer from the Hannigan Law Office.
With the addition of the maintenance costs, the Finn Fest members were given breathing room to develop uses for the building to become a community event center.
The Finn Fest group unanimously approved acceptance of the building donation package that was offered to them. The papers were signed on December 27th and the property and building were officially signed over to the Finn Fest members. A very exciting day!
A vote was made by the group and a name for the building was selected: “Nelle Community Center”.
Connie Mercer, long-time parishioner of the Congregational Church, is glad that the church building will benefit the Finnish American Folk festival as a community center. She attended the church in the early 60’s and on through the years to the present day.
Mike Swanson, Finn Fest chairman and signer for the new building, said: “It’s special that the congregation donated the church to the group, which holds its festival every 2 years. I’m just happy we have the opportunity to use it for the best interest of the community.”
We are looking forward to our first big event, which will be a concert, Open House and food event scheduled for Saturday, February 16th. Finnish prune tarts are being donated by the Finnish brotherhood in Astoria, Oregon. Platters of meats and cheeses are being donated by the Grays River Grange. Finnish meatballs will be on hand as well as Finnish pastry and Danish Puff pastry. Salmon dip and elk sausage will also be on hand. The community is already coming together to make this first event very special! Donations at the door will go towards building a stage and upgrading the current sound system. We are very excited about this February event which will begin at 5:00 p.m. with a wonderful concert upstairs! We have some incredible talents coming: Richard Ellis, vocalist, Carl Wirkkala, country singer and composer, Kim Angelis, professional violinist, and Gene Quilhaugh, local folk singer.
Our community here is amazing! They have supported our local Finnish Festival since 1982! We are confident that they will show their community support for this new venture!!
We look forward to many more events, including an Artist in residence night, craft fairs, concerts, as well as community plays with people of all ages performing!!
Feel free to contact Barb Swanson at 360-484-3602 for more information!!