Village News (October 4, 2018)
By Robert Goertzen
Summer Season in Review
The summer season at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is often thought of as our “busy” season, and rightly so.
Summer 2018 was no exception. Our grounds and the outdoor buildings got a lot of attention, with repairs to buildings, improvements to walkways and ramps, regular yard maintenance of trees and grass, care of the animals and fieldwork. The Livery Barn Restaurant was open seven days a week from 10 AM to 4 PM with buffets, catering events and regular service to customers, featuring our traditional Russian Mennonite menu. With expanded hours and an increase in visitor traffic, Village Books and Gifts was kept very busy assisting guests with book enquiries, providing information about Mennonites and Mennonite history and culture, and offering unique souvenirs as a reminder of their museum visit.
Fundraising was ramped up, with planned public events nearly every month, which brought supporters to the museum and to the great Manitoba outdoors. Our venue rentals were at a premium, with both our Auditorium and our Summer Pavilion in demand for weddings, receptions, and business or family picnics. On top of all this heightened activity, our curators were busy bringing their 2018 exhibit plans to fruition in our Gerhard Ens gallery, as well as coordinating improvements for the outdoor village. This place was really “humming!”
However, beyond this general day-to-day busyness, the most visible aspects of our MHV summer were our festivals and other public events. It is amazing how many visitors attend our large festival events in summer. Canada Day (July 1st) was our biggest one-day event, drawing nearly 4,500 people to our grounds to celebrate our country, listen to music, taste exceptional food, and enjoy family and children’s activities–all in a pioneer village setting. We are very grateful for the collaboration that we have experienced with the City of Steinbach in promoting this annual holiday and setting the tone for the fantastic Canada Day fireworks to be held at the soccer park later that evening.
As usual, Pioneer Days, during the August long weekend, was our biggest weekend of the summer. We celebrated our local heritage with four days of demonstrations and activities that relived the early years of the settlers who decided to make Southern Manitoba their home after travelling thousands of miles, across ocean and continent, in order to live out their faith as they believed they should. It is always fascinating to listen to the memories of our volunteers and our visitors, who understand that pioneer life was not easy, but everyone was doing their best to follow God and to participate in the community of faith.
We wrapped up our summer festivals on the Monday of the September long weekend, with a one-day, fun-filled event which we call Fall on the Farm. Just as the early pioneers had daily, weekly, and seasonal routines, the museum also continues to interpret and demonstrate the activities which would have happened at the end of the crop growing season and the start of preparations for winter. This year we once again demonstrated the harvesting of crops, the field work involved in preparing the soil for the winter, and some of the farmyard activities that fill the food cellar with good food for the cold winter ahead.
Our summer programming has relied on hundreds of volunteers to assist us with maintaining our yard, serving food, welcoming guests, and interpreting through demonstrations and guided tours. To acknowledge their valuable and essential service, we held a Volunteer Appreciation event on September 27.
Summer 2018 has now come to an end at MHV. As we enter the Thanksgiving season, we are truly grateful to have had a very good season. Thousands of visitors from around the world came to hear and experience the Russian Mennonite story from the 16th century to the present.
It was a wonderful summer of meeting people, welcoming the community, and working together so that MHV can continue to be a valuable community meeting place.
Calendar of Events
*MHV Off-Season Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM*
October 20, Third Annual Local History Lectures – 7:00 PM
November 4, Vespers Service – 7:00 PM
November 10, Christmas Market