A New Season

   The ending of our summer season marks the beginning of a new and different season of activity at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). Although our outdoor village and the Livery Barn Restaurant are now closed until May 1, 2017, we want everyone to know that the museum is still open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. Guests continue to have access to our indoor galleries, our gift shop and our meeting rooms.

   So what will keep our staff busy now as we head for year-end? Normal fall activities include preparing our heritage buildings and the rest of the village for winter, writing and analyzing reports on our 2016 operations, preparing exhibits and education materials that will develop our theme in the new year, fundraising to try to close the year with a balanced financial statement, applying for grants to fund staff positions and projects next year, and writing strategic plans and budgets for the next year’s operations. This is also the time of year when some of our staff take time off to use up banked hours from a very busy summer season.

   But this particular fall we have a number of unique activities happening. As Alexandra Kroeger noted in last week’s Village News column, for about the last two months we’ve hosted a traveling exhibit in our Gerhard Ens Gallery. Along the Road to Freedom is moving on to another venue so will be taken down and packaged for shipping right after Thanksgiving. Our curators will then reinstall Beyond Tradition: The Lives of Mennonite Women, which will occupy that gallery for the balance of the year.

   Last week we had a sod-turning ceremony to initiate construction of our Summer Pavilion. This building will replace the big white tent next year and will provide many new opportunities for MHV programs and community activities. Penn-Co is eager to get the project underway shortly so that the concrete work can be done before the ground freezes and also to ensure that the new building will be ready for use by May 1, 2017. We are very excited about the fact that we will not need to erect the tent in spring and that we will have so much added functionality.

   For almost a year, we had been looking for a contractor to do log-wall repairs to the Waldheim House, our oldest building. Both exterior and interior walls need to be refurbished. We are pleased that Myron Hiebert and Michael Klassen have come forward with considerable passion for the restoration of this 1876 house. Their project too will begin this month and be completed for our 2017 season. We are currently looking for a qualified craftsman to put a new thatched roof on that house next summer.

   Our iconic windmill is also undergoing some restoration this fall. Bob’s Woodworking will be installing new louvres on the main sails of the windmill. These louvres are there to allow the operator to adjust according to the amount of wind available and the amount of power required to grind the wheat. Additionally, Broesky Painting will be painting the new louvres, the railing around the main deck and a few other critical areas of the windmill.

   While our Foundations for a Strong Future development initiative has had a very encouraging response from our constituency, businesses, governments and foundations, we still need to raise just over $1,000,000 to complete the campaign. Raising that amount of money, plus the usual funds which are essential to close this year in the black, will be a significant task.

   So while our hours of operation and our activities are different now than during the summer tourism season, we still find our days and weeks slipping by with almost alarming speed. But staff are happy to now have our weekends available again for some of the personal things we couldn’t do during those busy summer months.

Calendar of Events

October 10 – Closed for Thanksgiving Day

November 6 – Vespers Service, 7:00 PM

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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