By Barry Dyck
Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) held this year’s Fall on the Farm festival on Monday, September 4. This annual Labour Day event concludes our series of summer festivals.
Fall on the Farm always contains certain elements that are not part of any other festival, and this year’s event included those unique aspects. Perhaps the major and most popular Fall on the Farm activities are the butchering demonstrations. For the hog butchering, meat from an abattoir-slaughtered hog is cut up and processed. A couple of chickens from our own small flock are used in the chicken-butchering demonstration. Part of what makes these demonstrations special is the attention our volunteer butchers give to the guests. All questions are welcome and answered to the fullest extent possible.
Another traditional element of this fall festival is a workshop on saving seeds from your garden and preparing the garden for winter. We are grateful for the expertise and participation of the members of the Steinbach and Area Garden Club who offer this workshop.
The MHV Auxiliary fries Apple Fritters only at this festival. These are a great substitute for the Rollkuchen that are served on numerous other festival days. The fritters are also appropriate for the season, given that many of our apple trees are overloaded with apples at this time of year.
One of our volunteers has repaired our stationary silage chopper and offered a demonstration of its use by cutting up our garden corn and mixing it with some alfalfa. We didn’t have a lot of corn, so it was a brief demonstration and yielded very little silage. But hopefully our livestock will enjoy it in the next few days.
The most celebratory highlight of our 2017 Fall on the Farm was the ribbon-cutting which marked the official opening of our new events centre, the Summer Pavilion. A number of MHV’s board members, staff, volunteers and supporters gathered at the Pavilion at 11:00 to commemorate this event. Congratulatory comments and reflections of thankfulness were offered by Will Peters, MHV Board Chair; Michael Zwaagstra, City of Steinbach Counselor; Barry Dyck, MHV Executive Director; and Ted Falk, Member of Parliament for Provencher (who was unable to attend but had sent a note). After the cutting of the ribbon and a prayer of dedication, the guests socialized over coffee and cookies.
The official commissioning of our Summer Pavilion is a momentous event for MHV. Conversations about replacing our events tent with a permanent events centre go back as far as 2005. The subject became a serious topic of conversation in 2011 when the board chose it as its highest-priority project. Planning the project and raising the money to move forward took the better part of six years. Erecting our new building took only seven months.
The building has already served us in a multitude of ways. All of our festival entertainment for our 2017 season took place in the Summer Pavilion. It was particularly valuable to have it available at Fall on the Farm, because the weather turned quite miserable with wind and rain for part of the day. If our entertainment had been staged in the tent at that time, anxiety and discomfort would have ensued. As it was, our new building provided a calm and comfortable environment.
The Pavilion has also been used for the summer sessions of our school program, as well as for weddings, staff picnics, and a class reunion. It is so much more versatile than the tent ever was.
While the weather was somewhat disruptive to this year’s festival, we were pleased to have just under 1,300 guests attend, undaunted by the wind and occasional rain.
At several points during the day, an announcement informed our guests that there will be a Volunteer Appreciation event at MHV on September 28 at 7:00 PM. All MHV volunteers are welcome to attend. We want to celebrate another good year and offer words of thanks for the volunteer work that makes our museum sustainable.