It is busy at the Kukkolankoski rapids! Seasons define the activities connected to fishing and many yearly events are organized. Below you find information about what is going on in each season and what there is to see and experience.
Big Whitefish at the river
The summer at Kukkola is officially opened by taking the Big Whitefish out on the river. In the beginning of June each year this symbol of safeguarding local traditional fishing is anchored in the middle of the border river. The Big Whitefish watches over the fishermen, villagers and visitors at the rapids for the entire summer.
Big Whitefish is a gift from the Association for Rural Culture and Education to the association ProSiika ry. In 2013 the former organized a project during which this floating fish was born. After the project the Big Whitefish settled at the Kukkolankoski rapids and became a symbol for the wellbeing of the migratory fish.
Building the piers called “krenkku”
If you stop by in early June you might be lucky enough to get a glimpse on how traditional krenkkus are built. There are a lot of fishermen in the area doing voluntary work. It is time to prepare the grounds for the start of the fishing season. Days of voluntary work are organized and a long bridge called Karinsilta is put up. The river view turns into a cultural landscape.
Building of the piers is defined by the water level. The Torne river floods in the spring after the ice breaks and the timing for building is decided based on the natural circumstances. Building is hard work: the enormous power of the stream is utilized but safety is priority number one.
The day of Our Land, Meänmaan päivä
Mid-July brings along the day of the Torne valley culture, July 15th. The blue-white-yellow Our Land flag is hoisted on both sides of the border river. Celebrations are different every year, follow our social media to learn more!
The dipnetting tradition can be observed at the Kukkolankoski rapids almost throughout the summer. First it is done in the form of “spring dipnetting” when everyone owning a fishing right can dipnet. That is the period when the accelerating migration of the whitefish is carefully watched and the atmosphere is anticipating.
Dipnetting in shifts starts in the beginning of August when larger schools of whitefish arrive. The fishermen from certain owner-houses work 24-hour shifts. At 6 pm the catch is shared between the houses in a ceremony that is followed by villagers and visitors alike.
The Whitefish Festival
The Whitefish Festival is one of the most well-known yearly events at the Kukkolankoski rapids. It is organized at the end of July. That is when the migratory whitefish start to arrive in the waters of the Torne river and the shift dipnetting season begins. Similar festivities happen at the same time also on the Swedish side of the river, at Kukkolaforsen.
The Whitefish Festival is all about the arrival of the migratory whitefish. Local arts and crafts are available, skewered whitefish and other local delicacies can be bought and music fills the air. The Whitefish Festival is very much a culmination of the summer.
When there is enough whitefish in the river (end of July/beginning of August), it is time for the shift dipnetting to start. That is when the daily ritual of the whitefish sharing also starts. It happens every evening at 6 o’clock in front of the fish shed at the rapids field. People from near and far gather around: the local fishing right owner families come to have their share of the daily catch and visitors arrive to see the fascinating ceremony.
The whitefish sharing is a very peculiar feature in the local traditional culture. The ritual has remained the same throughout many centuries. From one summer evening to another it is possible to see how it is still done today.
Catch, grill and enjoy your own skewered whitefish!
In the summer season it is possible to book a special experience at the Kukkolankoski rapids where you truly get to know the traditional fishing culture of the area.
The fishermen guide you in trying out dipnetting on a pier, krenkku, above the wild white waters. After trying and even possibly catching your own whitefish you will learn how the fish is first prepared and set on a skewer. In the grilling hut you see how the whitefish is cooked on an open fire. Finally you get to enjoy the fresh local traditional delicacy of skewered whitefish!
Contact Risto Leinonen, rapids host: +358 40 8411 348
The market takes place in September. Whitefish in all shapes and sizes can be bought and other local products and harvest time delicacies are also available. Varied programme each year.
In September-October the Kukkolankoski landscape is dotted with lamprey traps and wooden dam structures. They reflect the arrival of the mysterious lamprey. Each fishing right owner has his own spot, or several of them, where he builds his dam structure and locates his traps. The spots are allocated in an auction before the season. Visitors get to watch how the traps are checked daily and how the fishermen work together with nature, right there on the rapids.
Made in Kukkolankoski
Allow us to have a little play with words: “made” in Finnish means burbot. Funny, right? So, in March or April there is an event called “Made in Kukkolankoski”, which concentrates on celebrating the winter season fishing and burbot. The burbot fishermen familiarize the visitors with the burbot trap fishing on the ice covered river and tell stories about the culture. Also delicious traditional burbot soup is served.
Throughout the summer season you can learn about the traditional fishing culture and the rapids field also by yourself. Information about the area is available on info boards each of which has a QR-code to lead you to more detailed information on the old buildings and the activities at the rapids field. Welcome!