Renaissance of Kisko-Seura

Kisko is a small municipality with a population just under 2000. It is situated in Southwestern Finland not far from the coast, between Helsinki (the current capital) and Turku (the former capital). The commercial and administrative center of Kisko is a town called Toija. Kisko recently celebrated its 650th anniversary.

In 1960 the local people founded an association called Kisko-Seura. It organized local activities for about 10 years but fell into a near coma in the 1970s, when the Finnish countryside was undergoing a major change due to a structural change in the society.

Felice Vinci’s theory came as a fireball giving a spark of new life to Kisko-Seura and the entire municipality of Kisko. To think that the legendary city of Troy could be hidden in this outwardly peaceful Finnish countryside.

The president of Kisko-Seura at the time was Ms. Soili Kuussaari who had the acuteness to recognize the theory as an unparalleled opportunity to boost Kisko’s cultural life as well as make the municipality better known outside of its own area. Immediately after hearing about Vinci’s theory on Troy, she approached the director of the municipality proposing that cultural events could be organized as a concerted effort for the benefit of all and that the national interest in Vinci’s ideas could be utilized to gain larger interest in the media.

In the summer of 1994, only a couple of months after the first article on the theory appeared in the Finnish media, Kisko-Seura organized the coronation of the first Helen of Toija, opened an art exhibition called Ulysses in the North and had a play performed by amateur actors.

The prerequisite for all these events to take place was that a suitable space for them could be found. The local farmers’ association owned an old storage house made of natural stone. It was right in the heart of Toija and was not used by the farmers except to store some old farming equipment. It was a handsome building which inspired many to think up different uses for it.

Now was the time to see if something could be done about the building. The farmers were sympathetic to the idea of putting it to use and consented to clean and fix the building for Kisko-Seura. It took a lot of hard work to accomplish everything, but it was all finished in time so that the various events could take place already in June of 1994.

Already in the spring of 1994 the local school children were given an extra lesson on Homer and his epics. They were also asked to draw their idea of Troy. The drawings and paintings created by the children were presented in the local library as an art exhibition. Also the local Lions Club was inspired by the comparison of Toija with Troy and produced a wooden horse statue that was placed on a field by the roadside near the village of Toija.

For the coronation of Helen of Toija a dress and suitable jewelry were needed. With the sponsorship of Benefon Oy these items were designed by Irma Lehtosalo and Mauri Sarparanta.

Other emblems of Troy in Toija were the official postage franking stamp of the municipality of Kisko which had the Finnish names for Troy and Ulysses, and t-shirts and caps with an expressly designed image to commemorate the possible great history of Toija.