Simasammio was a project for making people amused on vappu, the 1st of May celebration in Finland. It combined three customs of brewing and drinking sima, getting out on the streets and celebrating together, and consuming atrocious quantities of alcohol. We pushed a barrel full of alcoholic variery of sima around the city, offering drinks to anybody who cared to try. On the second and third editions we also had a positioning system and website for locating the cart in real time.
Sima is a curious drink. Traditionally the kind of sima that is prepared for vappu celebration is very mildly fermented. Consequently is has very low alcohol content, the fermentation being mainly used for making it fizzy. However, apparently vikings of old time brewed a similar but more alcoholic drink from honey. Having spent my teenage years in Oulu in the middle of metal music boom, I was well aware of the alcoholic variety. In fact, the most amazing and terrible of my early experiences with alcohol were “sima parties”. As I already had the knowhow for sima brewing from these times, and the do-it-yourself aspect has always appealed to me, the brewing step of the project was quite obvious for me. The recipe we used was an adaptation Moonsorrow’s Warmead.
The cart we used was converted from an old baby stroller for twins. This way we got a very nice set of wheels, and also great suspension and brakes. The seats were removed and replaced with a simple wooden platform. This provided for enough room for the barrel. Festive decorations were added and voilà, a simple and robust mobile sima serving unit emerged.
Admittedly we had some difficulties to store all the additional gear on the cart. Disposable cups, a scoop for serving sima, honey for those who preferred extra sweetness and what else were all simply laid on the platform. Somehow they managed to stay onboard for the whole ride.
We started our journey about one’o’clock in the afternoon. Initially people we met were quite reserved and sceptical about our project. Consequently we served very little sima during the first hours. Luckily, as time passed, people caught the party mood and opinions got more amiable. This is turn meant that for a considerable period of time, serving sima was hard work with no breaks.
I guess I have a streak for performing, as convincing people to taste our sima was great fun for me. I did that by pushing the cart next to a group of people, locking the wheels with satifying clank sound, and starting with a simple “Would you like to taste our sima?” From there the conversation went where ever it went, and in great majority of cases I managed to convince everybody to try out our delicious product.
A separate segment of our clients were those who approached us clutching their phones. They came eyes firmly fixed to phone’s screen, often almost stumbling on the cart. They knew who we were and immediately asked for a cup of sima. Clearly, positioning system and simasammio.info web page were functional and generating interest.
It was also great fun when many people recognized me the next day, coming to talk about sima and our project on the street. This was yet another proof that we got where we wanted to go, making people smile and have great time.
On the third edition we also had a partnership agreement with Vappukoraani, a printed leaflet containing information about all the options for getting a sip of free punch during the day. Vappukoraani agreed to promote Simasammio in their booklet, while we promoted them on the website. They also shared their data with us, so that we could put the punch serving locations and times on the map.
Regarding technology, the positioning unit was an Android application that periodically sent its coordinates to the server through mobile network. In the third edition, it also supported uploading photos from the road. Hosting and all the server side components were provided by Google App Engine. Server side development was done using App Engine’s Python bindings. The map view was based on Google Maps. Source code for all this is available from BitBucket repository.
Simasammio team was me, Tommi Penttinen, Jussi Toivonen, Pauli Sundberg and Jussi Muttilainen.