Kuhmoinen is the smallest municipality taking part in Tampere Region’s ECoC bid. But it also has a strong sense of identity and independence. And next year, it will become part of Tampere Region.
“The publicity value of the bid means the world to us. Thinking selfishly for the municipality, participation is important to us from the point of view of making our municipality known among all the other municipalities.”
This is how Arto Kummala, the Developmental Officer of Kuhmoinen explains why the municipality chose to join Tampere Region’s bid for the title of European Capital of Culture.
“And cooperation. A small municipality shouldn’t try to do everything alone,” Library Manager Marjo Soininen continues. “And for people like me, this is a great opportunity to update my networks.”
With a population of 2,200, Kuhmoinen is the smallest of the municipalities in the ECoC bid and arguably the least familiar to people living in Tampere Region. The reason for this is obvious: Kuhmoinen is still part of the Central Finland Region until the end of 2020, but next year, it will join Tampere Region.
Right in the Middle
Drive from Tampere past Kangasala, then take Route 58 towards east past Kuhmalahti and there you are, in Kuhmoinen. Did you think it was secluded? Quite the contrary, it is right in the middle of everything: 85 kilometres to Tampere, 75 to Lahti and 90 kilometres to Jyväskylä.
So why become part of Tampere Region?
“It stems from the local people always identifying with Tavastians (=residents of the historical region of Tavastia or Häme). Another obvious reason is that our business life is more connected to Southern Finland, and most of our second-home dwellers hail from the regions of Tampere, Päijänne Tavastia and Helsinki rather than Central Finland,”, Kummala explains. Moreover, Kuhmoinen has already been a part of Tampere Region’s Hospital District since 2013.
Kuhmoinen had a long and hard road to becoming part of Tampere Region. The municipality tenaciously fought back even after a ministerial working group concluded that this Tavastian village should stay in Central Finland.
The residents were strongly in favour of Tampere Region. The number of signatures in a petition circulated in the municipality surpassed the number of residents.
The petition was also signed by summer-dwellers, of which there are plenty in Kuhmoinen. There are as many as 3,000 summer residences in the municipality. During the summer, the population soars from that of winter. Along with its neighbours, Pälkäne and Kangasala, Kuhmoinen is one of Finland’s most significant summer-dwelling municipalities.
The municipality is happy to participate in the ECoC bid. It gives them an “inside track” to Tampere Region while maintaining their independence. There have been several unsuccessful probes into possible municipal mergers.
A recent arrival to Kuhmoinen, Head of Local Education and Culture Mikko Latvala, gives this description of his new home:
“A place that is rather small, but with a strong sense of independence and identity. Any possible mergers might be pipe dreams, because the people want to keep their independence. This is an active municipality, where people take action instead of moaning.”
The new addition to Tampere Region was already featured in Aamulehti, and the municipality has made a nice interactive map featuring hundreds of stories about significant locations in Kuhmoinen.
Kiepsaus and Teat Rubbers
On a January evening in the Municipal Hall, we are listing Kuhmoinen’s potential strengths. And there are plenty to be found.
There’s nature: Less than a hundred kilometres from Tampere, there is this place with easy access to complete wilderness. And there are several kinds of wilderness: You can go to the Seitseminen Natural Park or ride the new mountain biking route to the Isojärvi Nature Reserve. This route is also to be given the regional Sporting Achievement of the Year Award.
There are the villages and active associations. There are the seasonal dwellers, although they could play a more visible role in the municipality.
There is Kuhmola, the cultural centre which most significantly operates as a cinema. It screens the latest films, thanks to the connections of Educational Administrator Arja Wirzenius. For example, Helene was premiered at Kuhmola on the same day as elsewhere in the country.
There is Kiepsaus, a.k.a. the summer opening festival, attracting thousands of participants. There are also more extraordinary attractions, such as Finland’s longest inland ferry route to Haukkasalo and a number of avid TankGum enthusiasts. In fact, the ruling World Champion of TankGum hails from Kuhmoinen.
As we all know, TankGum is a sport where you fling cows’ teat rubbers into a milk churn four metres away.