DEEP RIVER-NASELLE - A capacity crowd of pre-Christmas revelers filled the Deep River Pioneer Church last Sunday afternoon to take part in an annual event. They were there to enjoy some pre-Christmas music in a historic setting prior to attending the Naselle Finnish-American Folk Festival Christmas Home Tour. The Deep River Church was filled with music provided by local musicians. Part of the receipts from the day's activities, as well as donations by the audience, went to support the Deep River Church Restoration Fund, while the other funds will support the FAFF next July.
Anna Wirkkala Ehrlund of Naselle, a descendant of two early families in the area, opened the concert with a welcome and a prayer. The Saari family kantele group, all of Naselle, consisting of Wilho Saari, May Saari Adair, and Karen Saari Nelson played a medley of numbers on the Finnish national instrument, the kantele. Kaisa Saari joined in to sing a song in Finnish.
Ed and Claudia Downs, residents of Grays River, then entertained the audience with a reading by Claudia and a trumpet solo by Ed. Lisa Bighill of Naselle followed with two vocal solos. Richard Ellis of Ilwaco closed the guest artists' part of the program with three solo vocal numbers.
Wilho Saari, accompanied by May Adair on the accordion, led the audience in singing several standard Christmas carols before the members of the audience departed for the home tour.
The tour featured the four homes of Pete and Barbara Donlon of the upper Salmon Creek, Glenrose Hedlund of Deep River, Bob and Annette Bowker of the middle Naselle, and Mitzi Hunter of the lower Naselle. All four homes featured decorations with a Christmas theme.
The day's events concluded with a soup and bread supper at the Naselle Lutheran Church.