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My Oulu: Love for Eurovision Song Contest unites people in Oulu

10.5.2022

The Eurovision Song Contest was developed in the 1950s to bring Europeans together, and today it unites people from all cultures and backgrounds. Even the organised fan activity, which has its roots in Finland, has been created around the song contest.

Ari Alavahtola remembers watching Eurovision as a child, but he found the love for the contest in 2004 when his friend showed the preview videos of the competing songs to him before the actual competition aired.

"It was a good year to start the hobby, as with the arrival of the semi-finals, Finland no longer had to hold intermediate years, like according to the previous rules, and it also took only a couple of years for our first victory."

Alavahtola's first connection to the fan community was made when he found the Finnish internet forum Viisukuppila. For Alavahtola, Viisukuppila has been the main source of information on everything related to the contest to this day. He also learned about the Finnish Eurovision fan club, OGAE Finland, through Viisukuppila.

"The first event I attended was the preview event in Oulu in 2013."

Organised fan activities originate in Finland

The first-ever Eurovision fan club OGAE Finland was founded in Finland in 1984. Currently, there are OGAE clubs in over 40 countries and the Finnish club has over 1000 members. The aim of the clubs is to promote the Eurovision Song Contest in various ways. The club brings Eurovision fans together to enjoy like-minded company and, of course, the music and the glamour of the Eurovision Song Contest itself.

Ari Alavahtola has been an active member of OGAE Finland since he attended his first event in Oulu. He has also traveled to Helsinki for the Christmas party organised by the club. Since 2019, he has been the club's regional coordinator for Northern Finland and is therefore responsible for the fan events organised in Oulu.

At least two traditional events are held in Oulu every year, the preview party and the Christmas party. At the preview party, which usually takes place in April, all the preview videos of the competing songs of the current Eurovision year are viewed and voted on in traditional Eurovision style. Also, this year fans in Oulu ranked the competing songs and the winner among the 18 voters was France, which is also Alavahtola’s favourite song of this year.

At the Christmas party, the participants can request songs to be rated by others and their Eurovision knowledge is being tested in quizzes. Sometimes viewing party for the contest is organised in Oulu as well, if the fans have not travelled to the host city to watch the show in-person. Restaurant Perla is the main spot in Oulu for the gatherings of Eurovision fans.

Eurovision unites people from all backgrounds

Alavahtola has noticed that the Eurovision fan community in Oulu is very diverse. Different generations and people with different backgrounds are united by their love for Eurovision. Alavahtola considers the diversity of fans to be a great asset and newcomers are warmly welcomed. The fan community keeps in touch through WhatsApp and the Facebook group for Eurovision fans in northern Finland, which has almost 100 members.

“From veterans, who have followed the contest for decades, is nice to hear memories from years ago and hear their views on the development of the fan culture. Younger participants inform us about the current trends in the contest and prove how the contest has taken over the social media channels.”

This year, many Finnish Eurovision fans have traveled to Turin, Italy, where the competition will take place this week. Alavahtola himself will get together with his friends to watch the Eurovision final.

“I have a tradition of holding a long-form Eurovision party at home with my group of friends. Last year I got a special present for my 30th birthday, as my friends had booked a cottage for us from Nallikari for the Eurovision final. The evening was so successful that we decided to book a Eurovision cottage for this year too!”

Eurovision Song Contest 2022

- Takes place in Turin, Italy from 10th to 14th of May. The current favourites to win are Ukraine, Italy and Sweden.
- Finland is represented by The Rasmus with the song Jezebel. Finland competes in the second semi-final of the contest on 12th of May.
- Read more about Eurovision fan club OGAE Finland on its webpage

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Restaurant Perla is the main spot in Oulu for the gatherings of Eurovision fans. This year the fans ranked the competing songs and the winner was France, which is also Ari Alavahtola’s favourite – next to Finland. Photo: Sami Luukela

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