Mennonite Heritage Village

Slow and Steady in 2020

by Gary Dyck

Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is often the first stop for visitors coming from the east. Sometimes they make their plans in advance, sometimes they see our billboard on Highway 1 and decide to make a detour. Unfortunately, this year we’ve had to turn people away from Quebec, Southern Ontario, Nova Scotia and even the U.S. We’ve had to be the ones to update them on Manitoba’s requirement for self-isolation. We do miss our visitors from the East and South, but cannot allow them into our museum at this time without the required 14 day self-isolation.

Our admissions for May and June are approximately down by 70% from 2019. I believe July and August will be better. Instead of the thousands that usually come for Pioneer Days, we have had hundreds coming for our Pioneer Demonstrations spread out over every other Saturday. Slow and steady may just win the race yet.

In a 2006 study, Travel Manitoba found that the main reason people come to Steinbach is to ‘visit friends and relatives’ and that the second highest reason was a ‘cultural/heritage experience’. The study also found that 46% of Steinbach residents and non-residents planned to visit a museum in the near future, that 24% planned to attend a non-museum attraction and 16% planned to visit an entertainment venue. It surprised me to see how high museum visits ranked in travel plans. However, when I looked at Travel Manitoba’s list of Manitoban attractions, there were more attractions in the museum group than all other groups combined (including major attractions, entertainment, shopping centres and outdoor venues). They had listed 35 major museums. It seems museums are everywhere and people visit them.

At the time this article went to press MHV does not require visitors to wear masks, but for your safety MHV staff who are in constant contact with visitors will be wearing masks most of the time. We also have vapour barriers, directional arrows and sanitizer ready for your safe visit. It has been wonderful to see the steady stream of people still visiting our open grounds and enjoying our restaurant and picturesque picnic table area. 

Donations and grants have also been steady. Last month the Manitoba department of Sports, Culture and Heritage announced a new endowment for us and six other Manitoba signature museums. For the last few years they have provided us a grant for $57,000. Now however, they have instead put $1.4 million into an endowment and we can expect $62,000 this coming year. The beauty of this is that we can count on this income every year and it should keep up with the rate of inflation. This does not mean we have $1.4 million to use at our discretion, so please keep those donations coming!

Every day I get to see the tangible joy of the people who visit our grounds. Whether it be a family from Saskatchewan with a toddler who needs to run and ask a dozen questions at once or a regular who needs to enjoy some good food and familiar history. Come join the steady stream this year at MHV!     

Calendar of Events

August 13, 20, 27, Rhubarb Jam. Every Thursday supper enjoy ‘Wings and Things’ from the Livery Barn Restaurant while listening to live music in our Summer Pavilion.

August 15 & 29, Demonstration Days – instead of large events MHV is hosting pioneer demonstrations every other Saturday. There will also be barrel train and wagon rides, and waffles and Rollkuchen (pre-order to take home) sold by the MHV Auxiliary.