Mark McLeod didn’t think he’d be walking away with his wife’s weight in beer Saturday afternoon.
He, his wife Jessica and their two children just wanted to enjoy a few activities as part of the 2012 Finnish Canadian Grand Festival. But at around 1 p.m. the McLeod’s got talked into taking part in the Finnish tradition of wife carrying.
The highlight of the fesitval’s sporting component, wife carrying is a foot race full of obstacles from hurdles to pools, all while carrying someone, on your back with their legs on your shoulders. Organizer Sari Jamsa Babcock said the sport probably originated in Finland during the time of Vikings when rivals would carry each other’s wives away
A much bigger race is held in Finland every year. With Thunder Bay hosting the grand festival this year, Jamsa Babcock said the event need to be a part of the celebration of all things Finnish.
“I think it’s just pretty funny watching the way they carry them and of course a lot of them come for the beer,” she said of the grand prize, your partner’s weight in beer.
The McLeod’s, who beat five other couples to win the competition, said the beer was a nice surprise. McLeod said they had no time to prepare because they didn’t even know the race was happening until Saturday. After trying out the carry a few times, they hit the course running. His legs did get a bit tired after running through the water, leaving the couple to take a fall near the finish line. Luckily Jessica, like all of the partners, was wearing a helmet.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said.
The festival ends Sunday on Bay Street with a street dance starting at 7 p.m. Jamsa Babcock said its’ been great being able to host people from all over and celebrate the Finnish culture.
“It means a lot to all of us,” she said.
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