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International Market in Rovaniemi

Global input proves its cosmopolitan nature

11 Sep 2018, 10:54 ( 10 Months ago) | updated: 11 Sep 2018, 13:44 ( 10 Months ago)

DF Report by Ibukun Emmanuel Asiyanbi
International Grand Market in Rovaniemi. DF Photo.

About 120 traders from some 30 European countries as well as from some countries in other continents set up stalls in this year’s International Market held in downtown Rovaniemi on September 6 to 9.

The event launched in 2012 will tour this summer 16 cities in Finland, including Oulu, Vantaa, Lahti, Kotka, Turku, Rauna, Tornio, and Helsinki.

According to Ari Kallas, the event’s chief organiser and executive director of the Service Centre for Finnish Outdoor Markets (TMK), the sole purpose of an International Market is to bring unique products of different countries to a single venue for customers to choose from. “International Market events are the pinnacle of markets. Only a handful of selected traders selling high quality, specialist products are allowed to participate from each country or region,” he said, adding, “A trader has to be certified and also specialised in a particular product to be eligible to participate in the market.”

DF PhotoA group of around 250 traders, dealing in high quality produce, tour the International Market events. Continuously on tour with them is Jari Mäkelä, an entrepreneur from Pori, Finland, who specialises in Finnish handicrafts and products from Lapland, e.g., knitwear, witch drums and reindeer bone necklaces and hides. 

The TMK executive director said building on the huge success of last year’s International Market that coincided with the centennial celebrations of Finland’s independence, this year’s edition has been a huge success, attracting traders from countries as far as in Africa, like Gambia, and the Arabian Peninsula. He said in 2017 the global “Large Market Tour” was the largest public event in Finland bringing together about 1.4 million visitors, with the biggest single events being witnessed in Kotka and Helsinki.

In an International Market, traders design and construct their stalls on their own, with the organisers inspecting the structures and requiring the traders to bring any changes deemed necessary to them, explained Kallas.

One of the key merits of the event, he said, is that it serves as an avenue allowing diverse sets of peoples from disparate cultures and traditions to come together and exchange their goods and products and thereby generating a sense of Finland being a cosmopolitan country. This also enriches the Finnish culture by having interactions with other cultures through the cuisines, products, languages, and even the very sounds present in the market.

Kallas in collaboration with Jari Maikela initiated the International Market in Finland in July to August 2012. Two events were selected as trial runs. The International Market in Tampere on 19-21 July 2012 and the Kotka Maritime Festival on 26-29 July 2012. Both the trials exceeded expectations and raised interest in Finland and the International Market event. “Fulfilling these expectations we arranged a five-week International Market tour in Finland in 2013 and an eight-week International Market tour in 2014. Both tours were a big success,” said the TMK chief executive.

Since then, the level of that success has been steadily on the climb, drawing more and more traders from across the globe as well as more and more visitors. “The International Market has grown into such a great and important event that it is already a matter of national pride,” boasted the market organiser.