It is quite common for cities in Finland to have a culture festival event to mark the end of the summer season. The most famous is “Taiteiden yö” in Helsinki but the city of Iisalmi also has a similar event called “Ihmeiden ilta” (the Evening of Wonders), arranged annually in the last Saturday of August. The event has been both on hiatus and in active phase in recent times, but since the 2014 the Cultural Services have arranged every year it and Iisalmi City Library has taken actively part in the event.
The scale of this year’s program was our biggest investment yet and we started planning it in the early 2018, as it is not always easy to get well-known authors or other performers to smaller areas outside Southern Finland. However, we were fortunate enough to get two popular authors and a high profile multimedia performance. We aim “Ihmeiden ilta” also for younger audience, so in whole the program was diverse.
The children’s program included plenty of audience favourites. Regular story reading session turns more exciting when our staff does it in a magical tent put up in the children’s department. Reading dogs attracted both children and their parents. Salme, who is a talented painter, handled the face paintings for children and her table was a very busy place.
Adults had also an eventful evening. For the most part, it took place in the upper floor of the library. Pekka Honkakoski is a local doctor who has specialized among other things to snowflake photography, local history and cave exploration. These were also topics of his three multimedia presentations. Other highlights included performances from two renowned authors. Jenni Kirves is a historian living in Iisalmi. Her most famous book is a biography of Aino Sibelius (the wife of composer Jean Sibelius). Jenni gave an interesting performance of Aino’s life and her sometimes-turbulent relationship with her husband.
Leena Lehtolainen is one of the most read author of Finnish crime fiction. She has many popular fictional characters on her roster, the most famous being police Maria Kallio. Leena told the audience about her latest book, which is a collection of short stories ranging from traditional crime fiction to supernatural horror. She was a very lively performer and it was especially exciting to hear some exclusive information of her future releases.
The evening ended with music, dance and fireworks. We turned our reading room into a dance hall with real live musicians. A local band called Martin and The Boys played a varied selection of pop and rock classics. It was a bit surprising to see people actually dancing in the library reading room as some still regard it as a place of complete silence. After the dance, there was even more noise in the menu and exploding fireworks were a dashing ending to a great event.
In my personal opinion, this was one of the finest library event, which I have been involved. We invested a great deal of working hours to planning and marketing. However when the evening started, it was still a bit of a mystery how many people would actually show up in the event. As the total amount of visitors in the library was over 1 500, we exceeded all our expectations. For me the most important thing is the general mood of the event. We could not have had a better start for the autumn and the positive atmosphere we got from “Ihmeiden ilta” will certainly continue far into the year 2019.
Text & photos: Tuomo Lindfors (librarian, Iisalmi City Library).