Sibera, An Evening of Armchair Travel

On Friday, September 23, the MHV Auxiliary will host an evening of entertainment, education, visiting and food. Come and enjoy an evening of “armchair travel” with Len Loeppky as he shares pictures and stories of a recent tour of this part of Russia. Visit the homeland of the Kasdorf Family from Niverville. Enjoy coffee and a piece of homemade pie with ice-cream as you visit with friends who have either lived or traveled there. Admission to this fundraising event is only $10.

Great Volunteers

One of the rewarding aspects of life at MHV is the generosity of volunteers. Prior to our Fall on the Farm festival, a small group of volunteers made it their responsibility to get the antique binder up and running, ready to cut our field of oats on festival day. Last Monday, they were in fact able to start the cutting process during the festival. Unfortunately a breakdown stopped the cutting early, but the next day they repaired the binder and got that job completed.

Those readers who experienced farm life 50 or more years ago will know that once the oat sheaves are cut, they have to be stooked in order to dry. We are very grateful for the volunteers who came on their own accord and finished this important task for us. We are not sure how many there were or who they were, but they did what needed to be done. Thank you, whoever you are!

Here's what the sheaves look like in stooks.

Sheaves of oats set up to dry in stooks.

Book Reading

Hedy Leonora Martens will be reading from her book, Favoured among Women, at 3:00 PM in the Multi-Purpose Room at MHV on Sunday, September 18. This biographical novel, published by CMU Press, is a vibrant and unusual re-creation of one woman’s life, the result of years of painstaking research and interviews. Favoured among Women combines biography, personal reflection, poetry, historical commentary, and (above all) vivid storytelling. It is a novel both epic and intimate, dramatically presenting daily life in Leninist and Stalinist Russia in the first decades of the twentieth century.

Hedy Leonora Martens will be reading from her book, Favoured among Women, at 3:00 PM in the Multi-Purpose Room at MHV on Sunday, September 18. This biographical novel, published by CMU Press, is a vibrant and unusual re-creation of one woman’s life, the result of years of painstaking research and interviews. Favoured among Women combines biography, personal reflection, poetry, historical commentary, and (above all) vivid storytelling. It is a novel both epic and intimate, dramatically presenting daily life in Leninist and Stalinist Russia in the first decades of the twentieth century.

Heritage Classic, Golf Tournament and Hog Roast

Paul Gauthier, Tony Martel, Matt Reimer and Heinz Reimer, winners of the 2011 MHV Heritage Classic.

On Wednesday, September 7, Mennonite Heritage Village held its first annual Heritage Classic, Golf Tournament and Hog Roast at the Steinbach Fly In Golf Club. It was a great day and a great event. Our goals were to raise funds for, and awareness of, MHV. While most of the golfers had some prior exposure to our museum, there were about six who had never visited MHV.

The sunny warm weather was perfect for a day on the golf course. We were delighted to have about 75 golfers participate in this Texas Scramble tournament. A number of these golfers brought spouses to the hog-roast dinner which followed in the Mennonite Heritage Village Auditorium. Ron Unruh roasted the hog and the MHV Auxiliary provided the rest of the meal. Both did a great job of providing a top notch meal for golfers and spouses.

After the golf game was over, everyone made their way to the museum. Some golfers spent time in the village, some sat and visited with friends and others started looking over the silent auction prizes and developing their bidding strategy. Trev Schellenberg from Mix 96.7 initiated the festivities by distributing a number of door prizes. By the time the evening was over nearly every golfer had received either a door prize or a silent auction prize. We are grateful to a supportive community for their sponsorship as well as their donations of prizes.

The tournament winners were Paul Gauthier, Tony Martel, Heinz Reimer and Matt Reimer representing HyLife Foods. Each received a Family Pass to MHV for the 2012 season and free registration in next year’s Heritage Classic.

Fall on the Farm

Fall on the Farm was a spectacular day. 1500 visitors came to experience the exhibits, the entertainment, the food and all the activities of the day. It seemed this crop of visitors was particularly interested in our pioneer demonstrations. Large groups gathered round the pig-butchering and chicken-slaughtering tables. An unusually large group of guests participated in the guided village tour conducted by volunteer tour-guide, Henry Dueck. The stationary threshing machine demonstration powered by two horses also generated considerable interest. The Southeast Draft Horse Association deserves kudos for getting this machine into operation. As always, it was gratifying to see many families with young children enjoying a fun day at the museum.

Harvest Time

Sheaves of Oats Waiting for a Stooker

It comes as no surprise to people with a rural background that we are in the middle of the harvest season. Two of our volunteers, Abe Friesen and Abe Martens, have worked hard to get our binder ready for harvest. Yesterday, as part of our "Fall on the Farm" celebrations, they started the cutting process. The machine is old and so about an hour into the project they experienced a breakdown. Today they were hard at work again repairing the binder and finishing the cutting.

Now that the sheaves are cut, the next step is "stooking". The sheaves, or budles, of oats need to be set up in bunches, or stooks, so that they can dry. We need some volunteers to help with this. It would ideal to have one or two volunteers who have stooked sheaves before and a few who would like to learn how. Call us at MHV if you're interested, regardless of which category you fit into.

Once the sheaves are dry, we will pick them up and put them in storage. This will guarantee us sheeves for our threshing demonstrations at Pioneer Days 2012.

Fall on the Farm

It seems that it was only a few weeks ago that we opened the Village for the summer season. Many of the summer staff whom we hired in May have already left and are getting ready to return to their studies. The day-old chicks we brought to the farmyard are now full grown and laying eggs. The garden has provided us with rhubarb, peas, beans, cucumbers and other vegetables. Now we’re down to harvesting carrots, corn and potatoes. We find ourselves on the eve of our final festival of the summer. Fall on the Farm will take place on Monday, September 5.

Fall on the Farm is your last chance of the season to experience the activities, pioneer demonstrations, entertainment and good food that have come to characterize a festival day at MHV. While our current crop of oats will not be ready to thresh, we do have wheat sheaves stored up from last year, so there will be threshing. The entertainment under that tent will feature Lulu and the Tomcat (especially for the children); The Jasper County Line; Tom and Lori; and The Workshop Boys. The MHV Auxiliary will be serving waffles and vanilla sauce, and fresh apple fritters. Horse-drawn wagon rides, barrel-train rides, inflatable play structures, and story time in the semlin will keep the children entertained.

The gates will open at 10:00 AM and remain open till 5:00 PM. Admission rates are the same as they are any other day: Adults - $10, students and seniors - $7, children - $2, and a family pass is $25. Fall on the Farm offers a great entertainment value along with the reminders of our rich heritage.

Weddings in August

It seems that this year August was the most popular wedding month at Mennonite Heritage Village. Six couples chose to have their weddings here. Three were outdoor weddings, two were in the Lichtenau Church and one was on the deck of the windmill. We are not aware that anyone has ever spoken their wedding vows on the windmill deck before. Photos of this wedding can be seen on this blog site and on our Facebook site.

Six couples chose to have their wedding receptions at MHV in August. A number of these receptions were held under the tent, at least one was outside on picnic tables and several were held in the Auditorium in the Village Centre. The latter is a very common venue for wedding receptions. Photos of the Auditorium decorated for various wedding receptions can also be seen on our Facebook site.

Six couples came to MHV in August just to have their wedding pictures taken. Photographers readily find great backdrops for wedding photos in the village, in the heritage buildings and even in the Village Centre. Some of these photos are on our Facebook site as well.

Weddings are already being booked for next year. Call Marigold at 326-9661 to reserve the day and location of your choice.

New Billboards

In recent weeks we have installed two new MHV billboards on major highways. The billboard on the Trans-Canada Highway just east of Paradise Village and the one on Highway 59 just south of Highway 52 have both been replaced. The talented people at RT Signs have done fine work in designing and producing the billboards. John Fehr, a well known local contractor, graciously volunteered to refurbish the support structures and hang the signs. All of this was made possible by a couple of grants from the Steinbach Credit Union. We are so pleased to be part of a supporting community.

Detmold Museum

Friday, July 22, 2011, marked the official opening of the new Museum für Russlanddeutsche Kulturgeschichte (Museum for the Cultural History of Germans from Russia) in Detmold, Germany. The selection of July 22 as the opening date was to commemorate the 248th anniversary of the Manifest issued by Catherine the Great inviting Germans and other Western Europeans to settle in Russia.

Some months prior to the official opening, at the suggestion of board member Lawrence Klippenstein, the Board of Directors of Mennonite Heritage Village, decided it would be appropriate to send a gift from MHV to the Detmold Museum. While their story has a slightly different focus, it also has elements in common with the MHV story, specifically the Russian experience. Board member Rudy Friesen quickly volunteered to personally represent MHV at this official opening and present our gift.

It was decided that the gift should be something that would offer a permanent and visible link between the two museums. A handmade pair of children’s socks was selected as the appropriate gift. The socks were knit by Susanna Neufeld, nee Heinrichs, who was born in 1892 in South Russia, which is today Ukraine. In 1912 she married Gerhard Neufeld, who was murdered by rebel forces in 1920. Susanna Heinrichs Neufeld emigrated to Canada in 1924 and was known to be a talented seamstress.

Our Senior Curator, Roland Sawatzky, collaborated with the staff at Presenting Art in Steinbach to create an attractive framed display containing one of the socks as well as words of greeting and explanation. This gift was then taken to Detmold by Rudy Friesen and presented to Dr. Katharina Neufeld, the Director of the Detmold Museum, on July 22. The matching sock will be similarly mounted and displayed at MHV to recognize and declare our relationship with this museum in Germany.

Relationships with other museums are important and worth nurturing. Every museum has unique elements in its exhibits and operations. Many times we can learn from one another. People who visit one museum are often likely to visit other museums as well. In this case, visitors to MHV will be made aware of the Detmold Museum and vice versa. By sharing ideas and artifacts, we will become stronger individual entities, better equipped to do the work of a museum.

MHV Board Member Rudy Friesen and Dr. Katharina Neufeld, Director of the Detmold Musuem.

The views expressed in Community Blogs are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

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.