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Quirky portable saunas gather in Teuva

The ninth annual meeting of portable saunas took place in Teuva the weekend of August 1-3, featuring an innovative display of customised saunas built from army command cars, harvesters, refrigerators, ice cream stands, and even an old water heater tank, among others.

Sauna ladan katolla.
This sauna on the roof of this Lada automobile is a regular visitor to the annual gathering of portable saunas. Image: Anne Tastula/Yle

The proud owners of some 60 customised portable saunas have gathered in the western city of Teuva this weekend for the ninth annual gathering of portable saunas. 15 or so saunas and their owners are attending the event for the first time. Most of the participants are from the surrounding areas near Teuva, but some have made a longer trip to Ostrobothnia to fire up their quirky saunas.

“The sauna that travelled the farthest this year was from Savonlinna,” says the event’s organiser Eija Sievi-Korte.

Event popularity unexpected

The gathering of portable sauna aficionados is being held for the ninth time this year. The event attracted over 50 saunas already its fifth year. When the event was held for the first time in 2004, the organisers were surprised by the enthusiasm it created.

“We expected a dozen saunas at most, but 18 came. That’s when we decided to make it an annual event,” says Sievi-Korte.

The sky is the limit when it comes to what kinds of sauna contraptions people come up with. Eija Sievi-Korte can’t recall which portable sauna has been the strangest over the years, but even though she thinks she has seen it all, she says this year has once again brought some surprises.

“This year’s sauna made from an old water heater tank was good. And the sauna stove fashioned from an old Ford V6 motor has also given us something new to wonder at,” she laughs.

The saunas at this family event are no laughing matter, however, even if the sauna has been made out of a children’s play house. Saunas are serious business.

“The steam of the sauna is always satisfying, no matter what the sauna is like,” says Sievi-Korte.

Team Heluna leaves no one cold

A gang of friends from Helsinki arrived at Teuva Thursday evening. On Friday morning, they were the first event participants to fire up their sauna stove.

“We had to leave sufficient time in case the car broke down on us on the way,” says Kalle Saarinen, one of the team.

Equipped with a shower, stereo and lights, he is part of a group that has built an eight-person sauna steam room into the back of a 1988 Ford Transit van. The sauna and its crew are known as Team Heluna.

“It is a very good sauna; it has received many compliments,” the team says.

“This is the fourth time that Team Heluna has been to Teuva. It’s not a competition. The event is all about just enjoying your sauna - and bragging about it,” says Saarinen.

“Last year we went to sauna for a total of 40 hours out of the 48 hours we were here,” says Saarinen, who is clearly looking forward to another sauna binge in the van this year.

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