The Kaleva Centennial Sculpture Walkway

Kaleva Centennial Sculpture Walkway was created by the students of the Brethren High School Service Learning Class in 1999 to celebrate Kaleva's Centennial Year. This pleasant walk takes you by gardens and unique sculptures, including our most recognizable, the giant Grasshopper - the St. Urho Day Sculpture, which was made from recycled items.

This walkway extends from Nine Mile Road, north to

Wuoski Street. Click to enlarge the map.


The grasshopper was designed and crafted by students under the direction of Andy Priest, welder and metal artist of Wellston. The students heard the legend of St. Urho chasing the grasshoppers out of Finland and saving the grape crop. They decided to build a giant grasshopper out of discarded metal parts which they named the "Farmers' Nightmare". This 500 pound, 18 ft. sculpture was dedicated on St. Urho's Day, March 16, 2000. The signage says this one got away and landed in Kaleva but will cause no damage to crops here.

Each year on March 16th, Finnish Americans celebrate St. Urho's Day. The holiday is based on a legend out of Minnesota which claims that this would-be saint chased the grasshoppers out of Finland, thus saving the grape crop. Click here to learn more about the legend of St. Urho.

The Grasshopper


The Robert Rengo Sculpture & Dedication

The Finlandia Foundation provided a grant to The Kaleva Historical Society to support the construction of a sculpture honoring Robert Rengo, long serving mayor and promoter of Kaleva. Andy Priest, metal artist, designed the sculpture in the shape of the airplane Robert flew over the hump in China during WWII. The sculpture was installed at the south end of the Kaleva Centennial Sculpture Walkway Park near 9 Mile Rd.

Mr. Rengo was one of the longest serving mayors in our nation! The Kaleva Historical Society and the Village of Kaleva wish to honor this great example of community service. Hopefully in the future, other sculptures can be constructed along the walkway honoring the traditions and people that have made Kaleva a great place to live!
The Rengo family and community attended the dedication ceremony as well as the after-celebration concert by Suttuma.
Kaleva Historical Society held a concert celebration of the new sculpture at the Kaleva Roadside Park Pavilion where the Popular Finnish Folk Band, Sattuma entertained the crowd with enchanting songs and tunes from the Finnish and Karelian traditions. Sattuma is a family folk music group from Petrozavodsk, the republic of Karelia, NW Russia and has performed in festivals, clubs, concert halls, private parties and schools. The band performed instrumental music such as polkas, waltzes, shottish and songs. Songs are traditional from Karelia, Ingria, Finland, and performed in local dialects.
Sattuma also composes its own songs in folk style. Their arrangements use traditional elements but are also open to more modern rhythms. Sattuma performs with 20 different instruments including violins, clarinet, accordion, bouzuki, 10-string kantele, jouhikko (bowed lyre), traditional flutes, bag pipe, and didgeridoo.

The Sculpture Tree

The Centennial Walkway’s newest addition is comprised of 130 silvery metal leaves that sparkle in the sunlight, standing tall and proud at thirteen feet high and eight feet wide. Created by Wellston welder and artist Andy Priest, who meticulously welded each of the leaves onto the sculpture: in order to commemorate Kaleva’s past business owners and community contributors. The piece has created a space for honorees to be recognized and honored with a name plate for their contributions to the community consisting of both business and service criteria.

The Dedication of the Sculpture Tree

To celebrate this occasion, Kaleva residents gathered on Friday, August 29th, 2014 to honor the first three inductees that were officially added to the sculpture tree. The dedication ceremony, which took place in front of the tree, recognized: Arthur Luhtanen, Norman Kaskinen and Weikko Pihl.  Representing each honoree was a Kaleva resident who spoke on behalf of their inductee: Rick Shaffer for Arthur Luhtanen; Dan Holtz for Norman Kaskinen; and Wayne Pihl in honor of his father Weikko Pihl.  A committee of council members and Kaleva Historical Society directors “planned and commissioned the sculpture tree” with a grant in part provided by the Northwest Michigan Council on Governments.  
“It’s just putting a new name on an old idea, and we’re keeping all of those traditional ideas alive here in Kaleva” said village trustee Jim Draze in reference to this occasion.

Written by: Megan Desarmeaux KHS PR

To read the dedications of the six honorees, select a name below.


Vainamoinen Ship

Vainamoinen ship photo .jpg

Vainamoinen was a god, hero and central character in the Finnish Mythology - the Kalevala. Vainamoinen had a powerful, magical singing voice. When he was defeated, his powerful singing created a metal ship to carry him away. Robert Ramirez, a local Kaleva artist, has created an artistic version of Vainamoinen's ship composed of 2,660 wire coat hangers. 


The Finnish Quilt

Kaleva celebrated the 100 year anniversary of Finland’s freedom from Russia’s rule with special tributes to the village’s Finnish heritage.  Kaleva’s first settlers were Finnish individuals and families either escaping the oppression and poverty brought on by Russia’s reign or avoiding conscription into the Russian army.

One local artist, Melvin Fennell created a piece now featured on Kaleva’s Centennial Sculpture Walkway.  The work consists of three 4 by 4 panels painted with Finland-inspired patterns and symbols.  The display, which also features a Finnish poem by Inkeri Vaananen-Jensen, is considered part of Manistee County’s Arts and Culture Alliance’s quilt trail, designed to take travelers to different historical sites in the area.  Two panels depict Finnish patterns while the third features a crowned lion, Finland’s coat of arms.