Porispere brings life to August

Text: Kreetta Haaslahti Photos: Julia Hannula, Hannu Ikonen

In terms of music, Porispere festival trusts metal and big Finnish names. The surroundings of the Lokkilava stage offer an idyllic framework at Kirjurinluoto in Pori. An important part of the event is also the unique offering that ranges from the O’Porish whiskey bar to the delicious "porriittoes" and Grandma's Pancake Bar.

Harri Vilkuna had been organising live nights in Pori for 14 years, when he started to long after festivals.
– My friend and I had talked about the Lokkilava stage and that we should come up with something for it, Vilkuna reminisces the birth of Porispere.

And it did not end up being only talk. They rushed to action when it turned out that Sonisphere, who had entertained heavy metal enthusiasts twice in Kirjurinluoto, decided to pull out of this Bear City. The nation practically revolted in order to keep the festival in the city. Vilkuna and his friend decided to seize the opportunity.
– Initially, Porispere was merely a working name but we decided to utilise its marketing advantage. Well, there was also a level of annoyance toward the international Sonisphere organisation. We never met them in court, though, Vilkuna smiles.

Harri Vilkuna © Julia Hannula

Festival attendees welcomed Porispere but the positive reception did not immediately transform into ticket sales.
– The first year, there were a total of 9,500 visitors and the financial losses were huge, Vilkuna reveals.

Losses continued over the second year as well but after that, the direction turned. Or it was turned.
– Contents sell tickets so we had to make it more mainstream. A combination of foreign acts and big domestic names works well.

Porispere © Hannu Ikonen

Family Day is the best

Organised for the sixth time in August 2016, the best day at the festival has always – besides once – been Family Day on Sunday. The largest group of visitors consists of people who live in Satakunta and are 25-45 years old.
– The most typical visitor is a 30-year-old woman from Pori. The way families usually visit is that the father visits, for example, on
Friday, the mother on Saturday and the whole family on Sunday.

Vilkuna, a self-described marginal music enthusiast, is particularly looking forward to Radiopuhelimet in the summer of 2016. Twisted Sisters is of course of interest as well. The explanation derives from his own youth.
– When I was 10, all the walls in my room were plastered with posters of the band. I was a real fan so the circle will be complete in Kirjurinluoto in August.

However, the promoter himself will not have much time to enjoy music during the festival but he is okay with it.
– It is so rewarding just to attend and see things up close, such as the hysterics of Family Day when people are screaming due to seeing their idols. This is the joy of giving at its best.

Porispere © Hannu Ikonen

The surroundings of Lokkilava itself provide a fantastic and atmospheric milieu but the festival area is still developed every year.
– We listen to our customers and the vendors operating in the area and make relevant improvements.

His brainstorming buddies are Jussi Leinonen, who handles festival sales and marketing, and Jouni Wallin, who looks after production.
– As we have thrown ideas around together, we have come up with stuff like the wildly popular Irish-themed O’Porish Whisky Bar and Grandma's House, a pancake and coffee bar, which, upon our request, was initially manned by festival organisers' mothers who made pancakes for festival attendees.

Porispere © Hannu Ikonen

Many balls in the air

In addition to Porispere, Vilkuna juggles several other events. It sounds like quite a big share of the experiences the city has to offer are propelled by this guy. Bar Kino, from bartending to event marketing and administration has been his day job for 14 years already. Additionally, Porispere has been joined by the Kirvatsin Jytä event, which attracts pop music and disco enthusiasts in the age range of 50 and over to Lokkilava a couple of days before the heavy music fans of Porispere arrive. Isomäki Areena is where Vilkuna brings the top names of the nation with no regard to genre and Karhuhallin IsoJoulu in December offers a setting and the most popular artists for a slightly bigger Christmas party – for both individuals and for companies alike.

– Event organising is a job, just like hairdressing, Vilkuna concludes the question about motivation.

The interviewer is out of breath. I hope you do other things, too, for a change?
– I try to run 30 kilometres per week in the woods of Pori and we play basketball once a week. He also finds following and participating in his children's hobbies rewarding and relaxing. His daughter plays Finnish baseball and his son plays football. The youngest is still considering the various options for sports.