PYLKÖNMÄKI – Naturally Wild and Beautiful
Pylkönmäki is an idyllic rural community in Central Finland with a strong tradition of cooperation and helping one’s neighbours.
In the former days in the neighbouring area of Saarijärvi there was a saying “to be abroad in Pylkönmäki” – travelling to Pylkönmäki felt as long as going abroad because of the poor road conditions and high hills. Nowadays the trip from Saarijärvi to Pylkönmäki by car takes only about 30 minutes.
Pylkönmäki was an independent rural municipality from 1914 until 2009, when it joined the small town of Saarijärvi. Now the five small villages of the former Pylkönmäki municipality have formed a common Pylkönmäki Village Association called “Pylkön Ääni” – The Voice of Pylkönmäki.
Inhabitants in Pylkönmäki
The area of Pylkönmäki has 848 inhabitants (2011) and about 60 small companies. On top of that there are about 400 holiday homes which means that the population more or less triples in summer holiday months. The vacation residents bring new skills and networks to the community.
Pylkönmäki is situated in the border area – the people in Pylkönmäki speak three different dialects depending on the corner of the area where they are living.
Pylkönmäki is an active village. It is known for the amateur theater group of the “Pääjärven Nuorisoseura” Association, and for the sports club “Pylkönmäen Yrittävä”, founded in 1912. The sports club organises a big skiing competition every winter, “Pylkönhiihto” and a children’s olympics event “Pentin olympialaiset” each summer. The skiing event is one of the few in Finland with a 50-kilometer race, and the olympics have become well-known because every child who participates receives a medal.
“Pääjärven Nuorisoseura” Association and the sports club “Pylkönmäen Yrittävä” jointly own the Yrittävän talo Village Hall which can be rented very affordably to host occasions for up to 150 people.
Services in Pylkönmäki
For a visitor Pylkönmäki offers a small grocery shop SALE; The Evästupa Café and Grill with lunch, catering service, Matkahuolto Parcel Service and DVD rental, a small library, postal service, free Internet and books, newspapers and magazines to read; a pharmacy, and a health centre. The village also offers theatre, music and sports events.
For the residents there is a kindergarden, an elementary school, care of the elderly, an active congregation, and a service point of public services at the library.
The basic services are good. However, Pylkönmäki lost its petrol station a few years back. Although the villagers have tried to get the station reopened, they have not succeeded. It is advised to fill the tank either in Saarijärvi or in Ähtäri. The Evästupa café & grill by the library keeps a small amount of emergency petrol (98), tel. +358 (0)40 1840227, open every day.
Nature of Pylkönmäki
The hilly forest scenery of Pylkönmäki is coloured by about 60 lakes and ponds surrounded by farmhouses and pastures. The wild nature is always near you as wolves, bears, lynxes and other wild animals roam in the neighbouring forests. Especially fishermen are enthusiastic about the area due to the many rapids full of fish.
For a quick look, some of the best scenery of the area can be seen by driving around the Lake Karanka.
Architecture of Pylkönmäki
There are several regionally important building sites in Pylkönmäki.
The road of Mulikka-Laatokka shows typical local architecture and sceneries. The route starts from the small River Karajoki with the mill to the Kouheroisensalmi bridge of Lake Pääjärvi. Along the route there are six small farms built during 1900-1920 for poor people and small farmers and a small chapel. At the north end of the area one can see that the Hokkala farm, standing strategically on the highest hill, was a prominent factor in the village. The scenic tour ends at the Kouheroisensalmi bridge built in 1911.
The simple but beautiful wooden Church of Pylkönmäki was planned by a famous church builder Jaakko Kuorikoski in 1860. The building was done as much as possible by local work and donations. The wooden pulpit and the wooden ’poor-house man,’ both sculpted by a local farmer Taavetti Pajunen, are original. The poor-house man stands in the entryway of the church and was used as a depository for monetary offerings for the needy.
The original architecture was changed in 1926-1927 by a 28 year-old architecture student, Alvar Aalto, who later became world famous for his pure Nordic style. He redesigned many features of the church: the sharp tower was cut shorter, the outer walls were changed, the tall windows were cut into two, and a round entryway was added on the side. The villagers disliked many of the outer changes but loved the changes inside the church (the best of the changes was the heating!). The latest remodeling dates from 1967-1968 when architects Erkki Kantonen and Niilo Hartikainen planned new panelling, new benches, and a new dropped ceiling which has imbedded light fixtures. The church’s first pipe organ, which is located in the organ loft, was built by the Kangasala Organ Company in 1952. In 1989 the Tuomi Organ Company built a new organ next to the altar.
The church can seat about 300 people. Church services are held about three times a month on Sunday at 1:00 pm.
The old parsonage by the church was built in 1907. It used to be one of the central buildings in the village, but for the past few years it has been a private home.
The Parish Hall
When the parish was built in 1971, it had a small indoor swimming pool and sauna. During the first twenty years it was in active use by not only the local parishoners, but also by people from Saarijärvi and Karstula. When Saarijärvi built a bigger swimming facility, the pool in Pylkönmäki was converted into a parish office. The Parish of Pylkönmäki joined the the Parish of Saarijärvi in 2007.
Pylkönmäki is naturally wild and beautiful. The villages are surrounded by rivers and rapids, lakes and ponds. Fishing www.fishing.fi and canoeing http://www.saarijarviregion.fi/activities/excursions_on_water are among the most popular hobbies in the area!
Canoe rental http://www.saarijarvenlatu.fi/valinevuokrausta.html
There are several possibilities for accommodation in Pylkönmäki, please see http://www.pylkonmaki.fi/yritykset-ja-palvelut/matkailuyritykset/.
Jakola Farm www.jakola.fi is located in the village of Pääjärvi. In addition to cosy accommodation their special feature is one of Finland’s largest private car museums. All cars can be rented!
Perfect day trips can be made to Saarijärvi and to Ähtäri. In Ähtäri the Ähtäri Zoo www.ahtarinelainpuisto.fi presents Finnish wild life. In Saarijärvi there are plenty to see www.saarijarviregion.fi – try e.g. the Stone Age Village, a reconstruction of a late Stone Age village based on archaeological research. En route to Saarijärvi, one can stop in Mahlu village to admire the triptych “Maapallopatsas” (Globe Monument) built in 1950-55 in divine inspiration by the local gunsmith Matti Rutanen. He had a vision of God who told him to build a monument for all the people on earth – for the living, the dead, and the unborn. The statue is considered to be one of the most important naivistic works of art in Finland. (And, by the way, there is a geocache at the statue)
For nature lovers the best targets are the two national parks, Pyhä-Häkki and Salamajärvi, see photos. Pyhä-Häkki contains some of the most pristine old-growth forests and peatland in Finland. Walk the 3 or 6 km long trail among the 500 year old pines in summer or take snow-shoes or skis with you in winter. In summer season an English-speaking guide is available. Other recommendable nature trips can be made to Kulhanvuori and Julmatlammet, see http://www.saarijarviregion.fi/activities/hiking_areas
Distances Pylkönmäki – Saarijärvi 33km, 30min
Ähtäri 45km, 45min
Pyhä-Häkki National Park 55km
Nearest airport in Tikkakoski, Jyväskylä 80km, 1 hour
Train connections Nearest railway station Keuruu; some trains drop passangers off at Myllymäki in Ähtäri
(Track Haapamäki-Seinäjoki) www.vr.fi
Bus connections http://www.matkahuolto.info/lippu/en/
Pasi Katajamäki, tel. 0400 644738, pasi.katajamaki(at)co.inet.fi
Juha and Pirjo Lehtonen, tel. 040 5078336/Pylkönmäki, 040 1799309/Saarijärvi, juha.lehtonen(at)ppx.inet.fi
– in Pylkönmäki a taxi for 1+8 persons, room for 2 wheelchairs
– in Saarijärvi a taxi for 1 + 6, room for 1 wheelchair
Jukka Lehtonen, tel. Jukka 0400 5426 80, Raili 0400 3429 93, jukka.lehtonen(at)taxi.inet.fi
– normal taxi
– taxi for 1+8, room for a wheelchair
– minibus 1+10
Risto Manninen, tel. 0400 500813
– minibus, room for a wheelchair
Pertti Pohjola, tel. 0400 343159, 040 5784 922
– normal taxi, room for a wheelchair
PYLKÖNMÄKI VILLAGE ACTION PLAN 2011
The VILLAGE ACTION PLAN of Pylkönmäki was drawn up in 2011. It is a tool to help assess the village at present and to set goals for the village’s future. This plan will be used as a guideline for long term development of the village and to give the village residents a concrete strategy. As the population count in rural villages dwindles, the cooperation and teamwork among the villagers becomes more and more important.
The role of the Village Action Plan will be in active use as the community plans and carries out strategies for the benefit of the whole village. As Pylkön Ääni Association is a registered organization it is possible e.g. to apply for funding from the EU.
The village plan will be updated to keep in step with changes and progress in the village.
How this Village Action Plan was created
Certain basic factors remain the same now and in the future. The biggest changes are created by general shifts in society or government, which affect larger areas than just one village.
In January 2010, the residents of Pylkönmäki received the following questionaire:
– How would you like this village to develop?
– What developments do you want to prevent from coming here?
– What should be done to reach these goals?
– Who will be in charge of and carry out these plans?
– What are the goals of this village?
The answers affected the SWOT of Pylkönmäki.
SWOT Analysis of Pylkönmäki in 2011
– Strong identification and loyalty to the one’s home region
– Long traditions of helping one’s neighbors and working together
– Active organizations and hobby groups
– Gifted people in diverse areas
– The active participation of former residents
– Possibilities to enjoy nature and to engage in indoor
(the school gymnasium) and outdoor sports
(well kept ski trails and nature trails)
– Available property for sale
– An elementary school, the church and congregational activities,
the library, the information center, the health center
– Centrally located in Central Finland
– The village hall ”Yrittävä talo”
– Abundant forests and some unpolluted lakes
– Pollution of the lakes and the groundwater, the condition of
the swimming beaches
– The lack of a gas station
– The attitude of the residents: just giving into their fate
– The decrease in population and rise of the average age
– The weak road conditions outside the center of the village
– The lack of bank services
– Poor public transportation
– The lack of jobs, causing young people to move away in search of work
– The weakening of social and public services
– The return of former residents, possible new residents
– The care facility for the elder ”Palvelutalo Iltarusko”
– Local energy production from the forest – bioenergy
– Specialised elementary school, e.g. in music
– The child-friendliness of a small school
– The development of tourism – changing the old municipality
building into a bed and breakfast
– Increasing nursing and care-giving jobs
– A gas station and coffee shop operated as a cooperative venture
– Arousing international interest in wilderness adventures, hunting and
– Advertising Pylkönmäki’s pure and untouched natural beauty
– Organizing more public events and happenings
– Developing real estate: apartments and property are available
– The possibility of working at a distance via computer
– Relatively short driving distances to workplaces in neighboring cities
– More vacation homes
– Dwindling population
– Lack of jobs
– Public services ending completely, and the consequent moving away
in order to be close to those services
– A complete end to all public transportaion
– Closing the school: will there be enough children in the future?
– Road conditions getting even worse
– Being able to provide children’s day care
– Keeping the last grocery store open
– Pollution of the water in the area
– The limitations of the elderly care facility to take more residents
– The inertia and indifference of the residents: we shouldn’t sacrifice our
Pylkön Ääni in 2012
Almost all events held in Pylkönmäki are organized by volunteers. So is the work of Pylkön Ääni, too. Pylkön Ääni Association is a committee responsible for volunteer activities. It also makes suggestions to the civic leaders. The committee coordinates the activities of the different local organizations to prevent overlapping. Pylkön Ääni publishes net pages www.pylkonmaki.fi and a village bulletin called Pylkön Ääni.
Pylkön Ääni Association makes plans for the future in concordance with the local organizations, the local government and the congregations.
Times change and people change along with it. Pylkönmäki has always been known for its strong spirit of working together for the common good. This spirit will help to carry us on through the changing times ahead!