Village News

Open for Business

   Opening day for our outdoor village and the Livery Barn Restaurant (LBR) seemed to come upon us rather quickly this spring. Similarly, Week One of the new season has quickly and not-so-quietly made its way into our “history books,” likely due to the high level of activity we experienced. Our receptionists welcomed many guests and have already received many accolades on behalf of the museum. We sensed that people had been waiting with anticipation to visit the village or restaurant once again.

   It was good to feel the hum of our school program starting up when the first group of students arrived. Our summer staff and our regular crew of volunteers quickly stepped up to the plate and hosted these children with poise and professionalism.

   The last of our barnyard animals arrived, including day-old chicks which are still under a heat lamp in the barn.

   We had an adult tour group from the Interlake area visiting us later in the week. Our volunteer tour guides ably hosted them, and the Livery Barn Restaurant provided their meal.

   While our Village Books and Gifts store is open year-round in the Village Centre, our General Store in the outdoor village just re-opened for business last week. A group of local artisans have moved their crafts into the store, displayed them tastefully, and impressed many of our guests with their products and service.

   Our Facility Rentals Department was also very busy that first week with three weddings, four days of workshops, and a concert. These activities also created traffic in our Village Books and Gifts store, as well as the LBR, which also catered several of these events.

   Assisted by our custodial staff, our curators finished cleaning and setting up all the heritage buildings. Floors were swept, windows washed, linens and other props installed, and geraniums placed on the window sills of the houses. It feels good to open up the buildings and again have them serve their intended purposes. Staff who have spent the winter at their desks are enjoying time outside and in the various heritage buildings.

   With catering, regular museum guests, meeting participants and Mother’s Day, the Livery Barn Restaurant had a very busy first week. We were thankful for the good weather on Mother’s Day, which made waiting in line much more enjoyable and made our picnic tables quite appealing. Approximately 400 guests enjoyed our Sunday Buffet on that day.

   The Steinbach and Area Garden Club has been hard at work clearing flower beds, spreading compost, tilling the garden and the orchard, and planning the layouts of the annual flower beds. The tulips are already contributing a lot of colour to the beds.

   We have a number of new staff members this year. This is a very exciting time for them as they get to see the inside of the heritage buildings, smell the fragrance of plum blossoms in the orchard, participate in the various school and tour programs, and enjoy the great lunches in the LBR. It seems we are off to a busy and healthy start for the 2016 season.

Calendar of Events

- May 12 – Manitoba Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- May 23 – Victoria Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- May 29 – Auxiliary Faspa – 2:30 PM

- June 11 – Tractor Trek fundraising event

- June 12 – Tractor Show – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Village News

Spring

   Spring has always been my favourite season. The longer daylight hours, warming temperatures, white snow being replaced by green grass, and bird-song enhancing the stillness of the evening are all uplifting indicators. We are reassured that our world will not always be cold and dark.

   On the farm where I grew up, the coming of spring included the arrival of young animals: kittens, puppies, calves, colts and lambs. These added even more joy to spring during my childhood. I remember many times finding a cow with a newborn calf out in the bush and watching that calf get up on its wobbly legs to nurse for the first time. Colts were always very special on our farm, perhaps because we didn’t have many of them. I was always struck by the small round hoof-print a colt makes.

   Spring also brought various farmyard tasks with it, some being “fallout” from winter. Puddles from melting snow had to be directed into ditches and the creek so that the yard would dry. Branches, leaves and last year’s flowerbeds needed to be cleaned up in preparation for the summer growing season. These were largely pleasant tasks, often keeping me outside till dark - by which time it was too late to study.

   Once the land was warm and dry, we put in long hours to get our crops planted. Twelve- to sixteen-hour workdays were not uncommon. These long and sometimes hot and dirty days were not necessarily as enjoyable as some of the earlier spring days. But the work needed to be done while the land was dry.

   I have recently been reminded of these various sentiments of spring while out and about on our museum grounds. The grass throughout the grounds has turned beautifully green. Baby goats and lambs have taken up residence in our barnyard. The puddles have disappeared, and the sun has been shining for several days now. Here and there, branches and leaves are waiting to be cleaned up. The land is finally dry, so it’s time for the oats to be seeded. Now that our entire museum is open to the public every day and school children will be arriving shortly for our Education Program, picnic tables are again a welcoming sight on the lawns.

   I admitted to a colleague earlier this week that I would probably be applying some pressure to get a lot of things done while the sun was shining. With the help of several volunteers, the oat seeds were in the ground by noon that same day. After lunch, another volunteer spent time working on a landscaping project in preparation for the planting of shrubs and perennials. There is a lot of work, but it’s getting done.

   As evidenced by the combined joys and effort that springtime brings, a degree of pleasure and hardship can often exist side by side. That was certainly the case for our ancestors in Prussia and Russia. The peace and prosperity they had enjoyed while living in those countries was stripped away from them quite brutally, causing them to migrate to Germany, Canada and South America. These migrations were certainly not pleasure cruises, and pioneering in often-harsh environments offered significant challenges. But as they continued to persevere, appreciating the small things that still gave them joy and purpose, life became more stable and more comfortable.

   Today we see refugees being forced to leave their homelands and seek refuge in many countries, including Canada. Our understanding of our ancestors’ similar experience positions us well to support these people. We can all be encouraged by the perseverance of our forebears.

Calendar of Events

- May 12 – Manitoba Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- May 23 – Victoria Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- May 29 – Auxiliary Faspa – 2:30 PM

- June 11 – Tractor Trek fundraising event

- June 12 – Tractor Show – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Village News

   After a busy winter at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), we in the Curatorial Department are gearing up for a busy spring. This week we're cleaning the outdoor village from top to bottom and setting up the items that go back into each building after being stored for the winter. One of our valued volunteers is cleaning the village linens for us so that we can set those out as well. We'll be finished just in time for MHV’s seasonal re-opening on Sunday, May 1.

   Most people can easily see that we're pretty busy with the village during the summer, but what does the curatorial staff do during the winter? You might be surprised to learn that we're almost busier in that so-called “off” season than we are during the tourist season in the spring and summer.

   One of our biggest tasks in the Curatorial Department is applying for project-based grants. The heritage buildings on our grounds weren't originally meant to last more than a hundred years as most of our buildings have done, so they require steady maintenance. Finding the necessary funding for these projects keeps us pretty busy.

   Sometimes our maintenance projects are quite obvious. For example, over the next two summers we're going to be replacing the rotten logs in the Waldheim House, which is the oldest building in our village and the first building to be moved to our grounds. We will also be repairing and re-thatching its roof, which will be an exciting project for us and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the public to see a roof being thatched. Most of the time, however, these maintenance projects aren't as obvious to the public. In the past few years we have received funding to re-paint our heritage buildings, install new eaves troughs, and replace shingles. Last year we received a grant to replace the humidification system in the Village Centre so we can ensure that our artefact collection is maintained in a professional manner and according to museum standards. Of course, writing the grant application is only the first step. Once our application has been approved, we then have to carry out the actual work on the project!

For the last several years, we've installed an annual themed exhibit in our Gerhard Ens Gallery. Creating an exhibit is a lot more work than simply finding cool things in our collection and displaying them. First we have to develop the idea behind the exhibit. The next step is doing lots of research to make sure our exhibit is historically accurate, then condensing that research down to just a few hundred words for our exhibit panels. (This might just be the most difficult part of the process.) Following that, we make choices of which artefacts to display, selecting the ones from our collection that will serve us best in bringing to life the history we are seeking to share. And finally, we take down the past year's exhibit and install the new one for the current season. Believe it or not, this last part is the easiest step in the process!

   Last but not least, our Curatorial Department deals with the everyday concerns of a museum throughout the year. We correspond with people who have items they want to donate and make sure those items have good provenance and history behind them. Once we accept a donation, we have to do all of the proper paperwork to make sure the item and its history are preserved in our database system. We make sure our collection is stored and documented properly and also update and create procedures for dealing with our collection to ensure that we are doing everything according to best practices.

   These tasks and projects help us to fulfill our mission at MHV to preserve and exhibit the experiences and stories of the Russian Mennonites in Manitoba. They also demonstrate that our Curatorial Department is always busy behind the scenes, in-season and out. As always, we’re looking forward to seeing you in our outdoor village when the new season begins on May 1!

Calendar of Events

- May 1 – Outdoor Village and Livery Barn Restaurant will open for the season.

- May 12 – Manitoba Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- May 23 – Victoria Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- May 29 – Auxiliary Faspa – 2:30 PM

- June 11 – Tractor Trek fundraising event

- June 12 – Tractor Show – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Village News

   Take a minute to discover Steinbach’s best kept secret: Village Books & Gifts at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). We are open in the Village Centre year round, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekdays, extending to include weekends during May through September. So you have no reason to wait to find great books, unique puzzles, Menno Apparel, old-fashioned wooden toys, games and much more. Our gift-shop staff are very knowledgeable and work extremely hard to ensure your visit is a satisfying experience.

   Village Books and Gifts strives to be intentional about which items grace our shelves and continues to improve the selection and quality of the gifts and souvenirs we sell. We want to appeal to the wide variety of people who want to bring home something that’s a little bit “Steinbach” or a little bit “Mennonite.” We are working to provide good-quality, unique, and hard-to-find items.

   In addition to travel-friendly souvenirs for our guests, we are moving into a wider variety of heritage-driven gifts, toys and games. One of the biggest assets to the store is the line of Menno Apparel. Village Books & Gifts is the exclusive retailer for these t-shirts in the Steinbach–Winnipeg area.

  Need a unique book for someone special? We are proud to carry titles that embrace our history, tell our story, and sometimes bring a little controversy. Authors include novelists, genealogists, historians, biographers, and local photography enthusiasts. We also carry a selection of local titles which feature the story of family or community members and are written by the family members.

   Our quality books continue to draw many historians, bookworms and general shoppers. The mandate of our bookshelves is to provide readers with historically sound information, personal stories, and works of fiction that reflect the journey of the Mennonites through the ages. We also seek to carry a selection of cookbooks, children’s books, and coffee-table books of fabulous local photography.

   Store staff are currently busy stocking our shelves with the latest delivery of books and memorable souvenirs. Just arrived: Royden Loewen’s book Horse and Buggy Genius: Listening to Mennonites Contest the Modern World. The history of the twentieth century is one of modernization, a story of old ways being left behind. Royden Loewen and a team of researchers interviewed over 250 Mennonites in thirty-five communities across America about the impact of the modern world on their lives. Responses were recorded from two distinctive groups. “Life is best when it is kept simple”. Stop by our bookstore to get your copy today.

   Also hot off the press is the newly released GRANDMA 16 genealogy database. If you are looking for a long-lost relative, GRANDMA 16 has been updated with several hundred more names that would definitely help in your search. We have something for everyone!

Calendar of Events

- Apr. 21 – Volunteer Orientation – 7:00 PM

- May 1 – Outdoor Village and Livery Barn Restaurant will open for the season.

- May 12 – Manitoba Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- May 23 – Victoria Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- May 29 – Auxiliary Faspa – 2:30 PM

- June 11 – Tractor Trek fundraising event

- June 12 – Tractor Show – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Village News

   In less than a month our Village will open for the summer season. By now we are busy hiring summer staff for different areas of the museum. That also means we will start recruiting volunteers to help with various tasks in the Village and the office. We cannot function without the help of hundreds of volunteers doing a wide variety of tasks. The museum provides opportunities for volunteers of all ages to help in numerous ways, from assisting the summer staff with the education programs, to helping with yard maintenance or behind-the-scenes operations, or helping on festivals days with admissions, parking, preparing and serving food in the Short-Order Booth, and a variety of pioneer demonstrations.

   If you would be interested in helping with some of our pioneer demonstrations - such as baking schnetje, blacksmithing, grinding wheat in the windmill - but haven’t got the necessary skills, don’t worry. We have other very knowledgeable volunteers who do these tasks regularly and are willing to teach you. We will set up special teaching/training sessions for you.

   With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering and learning new skills are enormous for you, your family, and your community.  

   We will be having a Volunteer Orientation evening on Thursday, April 21, at 7:00 p.m. in the Village Centre Auditorium. All returning and new volunteers are welcome to attend. Coffee and refreshments will be available. If you are unable to attend but are interested in volunteering, feel free to drop in at our Reception Desk anytime Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to pick up a Volunteer Handbook and Application Form. You can also call Anne Toews at 204-326-9661 or email [email protected] for more information. Hope to see you here on April 21! Bring a friend, and make a difference this summer!

   Plan to celebrate spring at MHV at these featured events:

Calendar of Events

- Apr. 21 – Volunteer Orientation – 7:00 PM

- May 1 – Outdoor Village and Livery Barn Restaurant will open for the season.

- May 12 – Manitoba Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- May 23 – Victoria Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- May 29 – Auxiliary Faspa – 2:30 PM

- June 11 – Tractor Trek fundraising event

- June 12 – Tractor Show – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Village News

Spring at the Museum

   For the last three years, our Spring on the Farm festival on Victoria Day has suffered severely due to inclement weather. Last year the weather was so bad we actually cancelled the event. It had snowed overnight, and there was ice on the walk to the front entrance of the Village Centre.

   Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and the Southeast Implement Collectors (SIC) club have worked together for years to combine MHV’s Spring on the Farm with the SIC’s annual Tractor Show. Since both groups seemed to be experiencing similar frustrations with long-weekend weather trends, we both began assessing future options immediately after last spring’s event cancellation.

    Obviously, one can’t predict and dodge inclement weather as far in advance as event planning requires. However, the frustration resulting from the weather disruptions to this particular event have created conversation around new opportunities to celebrate spring in a farm environment. As a result, this year’s spring celebrations at MHV will have a different configuration.

   Thursday, May 12, is provincially designated as Manitoba Day. As in the past, MHV will again offer a reduced admission rate of $2.00 per person that day. We will also conduct a formal flag-raising ceremony with greetings from various dignitaries. Many of our heritage buildings will have interpreters present for part of the day. Horse-drawn wagon rides will also be available to our guests.

   New to our Manitoba Day event this year will be the Craft Sale which will take place in the Auditorium. Local artisans have been invited to promote their made-in-Manitoba crafts to our visitors. We are expecting approximately 20 craft tables and there are still some spots available. The MHV Auxiliary will support this event by serving “Beaver Tails”, a deep-fried pastry treat.

   On May 23, Victoria Day, the museum will be open from 10:00 to 5:00 as usual, although our planned activities will be scaled down considerably. The village buildings will be open, guided tours of the village will be available, and the Livery Barn Restaurant will be open. Weather permitting, we will also offer horse-drawn wagon rides.

   On Saturday, June 11, we will conduct our annual Tractor Trek fundraiser. This joint venture with Eden Foundation invites vintage-tractor owners to raise support for a 50-kilometre tractor ride in the country. This year we hope to have 50 tractors, each 50 years old or older, traveling a route through the RM of Ste. Anne and the Giroux and Richer areas.

   The Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show will take place at MHV the following day, Sunday, June 12, from 12:00 noon to 5:00 PM. The club will be inviting all vintage-tractor owners in the Southeast to exhibit their machines on our village’s Main Street. They will conduct a parade of these vintage machines, which will provide observers with information about each tractor. There will also be “tractor games,” which are primarily intended to demonstrate the driving skills of their operators.

   As an added feature that day, if the weather and field conditions are suitable, the Southeast Draft Horse Association will do some fieldwork demonstrations with their heavy-horse teams. This will be a great opportunity to appreciate the progress that has been made in modern agriculture.

   Plan to celebrate spring at MHV at these featured events!

Calendar of Events

- Apr. 21 – Volunteer Orientation – 7:00 PM

- May 1 – Outdoor Village and Livery Barn Restaurant will open for the season.

- May 12 – Manitoba Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- May 23 – Victoria Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

- June 11 – Tractor Trek fundraising event

- June 12 – Tractor Show – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Village News

Museum Week

   It's that time of year again - Spring Break, yes, but it's also #MuseumWeek. According to the #MuseumWeek website, this is a "worldwide cultural event" on Twitter (as you could probably tell by the hashtag), where museums around the world celebrate art and culture. This is a chance for us to connect with other institutions around the world, it's a great way to tell the world about the Mennonite Heritage Village, and it's a great hashtag to follow if you're at all interested in museums. Last, but certainly not least, it's a lot of fun!

   #MuseumWeek is an intriguing way to connect with museums that you might never have heard of otherwise. Last year on #secretsMW day during #MuseumWeek, I connected with a museum in England who mentioned some of their "secret" passages in one of their tweets. Maybe I read too many Nancy Drew books as a child, but I just think secret passages and hidden rooms are very, very neat. So I asked if they had any pictures. Sure enough, the museum posted pictures a couple days later!

   There are seven hashtag themes that museums use during the week: #secretsMW, #peopleMW, #architectureMW, #heritageMW, #futureMW, #zoomMW, and #loveMW. My personal favourite is #secretsMW, which for this year was highlighted this past Monday, March 28. This is the opportunity for museums to post behind-the-scenes pictures of their collections or feature little-known facts about their artifacts. Have you ever wondered how the British Museum stores its artifacts? Do you want to know what mummies look like under their wrappings? If so, this is the theme for you to follow.

   Tuesday was #peopleMW day, where we honoured the people who have helped make our museum great and those who continue to do so.

   Wednesday was #architectureMW day, where museums posted about their buildings and the surrounding areas. To highlight MHV, we posted pictures of our heritage buildings and told the stories behind them. Personally, I had no idea that mortise and tenon joints (as seen in some housebarns) were so interesting (or so photogenic).

   Today, Thursday the 31st is #heritageMW day. This is when we focus on our tangible cultural heritage - i.e., artifacts we hold in our collection - as well as our intangible cultural heritage - i.e., the stories behind our artifacts, and activities or concepts that might be lost if we didn't preserve them. This is particularly important to MHV, as preserving and exhibiting Mennonite heritage is a large part of our mission.

   On Friday you'll get a glimpse of our upcoming projects. For #futureMW, I'll be sharing information about our 2016 theme exhibit, Beyond Tradition: The Lives of Mennonite Women, opening in June.

   #MuseumWeek will almost be over by the time this article goes to print, but I encourage you to check it out. You can see our posts on Twitter @MHVSteinbach, and some posts will also show up on our Facebook page. Our website, mennoniteheritagevillage.com, has links to both. For more information on #MuseumWeek, check out museumweek2016.org.

Calendar of Events

- Apr. 3 – Vespers Service – 7:00 PM

- Apr. 21 – Volunteer Orientation – 7:00 PM

- May 1 – Outdoor Village and Livery Barn Restaurant will open for the season.

Village News

Annual General Meeting

   The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) was held on Tuesday, March 22, at the museum. This meeting, required by law, provides members the opportunity to hear about museum events and activities, evaluate the success of MHV in achieving its mission, elect directors to the board, and participate in other decision-making regarding the museum’s governance.

   Reports from each department of the museum addressed our various programs, reflecting on the past year and also providing some information about plans for the upcoming season.

   The Curatorial report indicated that 104 artifacts had been received from 34 donors in 2015. Last year’s exhibit in the Gerhard Ens Gallery, Mennonite Food: Tastes in Transition, is about to be replaced by a new exhibit, Beyond Tradition: The Lives of Mennonite Women, to explore MHV’s 2016 theme. This department is also preparing to do a major restoration of the Waldheim House in 2016 and 2017, for which we will receive funding through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. Both our windmill and the Old Colony Worship House are scheduled for restoration work this year.

   The report from our Programs Department indicated strong attendance on our festival days in 2015 but somewhat less in our Summer Education Program. Members were reminded of the significant role volunteers play in the success of museum programing. Our Programs Department will be introducing some changes this year. Our usual one-day Spring on the Farm festival will be replaced by a number of special-focus spring activity days, each highlighting a particular activity.

   Our MHV businesses all performed well, bringing in net income of just over $134,000 to help pay some of the museum’s operating expenses. Our facility rentals, the Livery Barn Restaurant, and Village Books and Gifts all contributed to the museum in this way, while also providing goods and services to the community.

   In the MHV Auxiliary’s report, members were informed that this fundraising arm of the museum raised over $44,000 toward various projects and initiatives at MHV. Beyond these significant dollars raised, the Auxiliary generates goodwill through their various activities, particularly their waffle production on festival days.

   In addition to our usual fundraising events throughout the year, MHV rolled out a new development initiative last fall -  Foundations for a Strong Future. This complex project is designed to strengthen the base on which the museum is built by providing a permanent building to replace the tent that serves as the venue for our festival entertainment; by restoring the Waldheim House and a number of other heritage facilities; by replacing all the furnaces and air conditioners in the 26-year-old Village Centre; by paying off our remaining debt; and by adding to our Endowment Fund. Each of these components of our Foundations campaign will strengthen the museum for its ongoing role in the community.

   Thanks to revenue already received in 2015 toward the Foundations campaign, our Audited Financial Statements indicate that our corporate fund balance improved by $67,608 during 2015.

   Six people were elected to the MHV Board of Directors. Doris Penner, Scott Barkman and Scott Reimer were each reelected for another three-year term. Glen Klassen, Marlene Reimer and Waldemar Ens will be new directors on the board. John Klippenstein, former Board Chair, was recognized for his contributions to the board during his almost six years of service.

   As usual, the evening ended with socializing over coffee and homemade doughnuts, compliments of Dora Penner.

Calendar of Events

- Apr 3 – Vespers Service – 7:00 PM

- Apr 21 – Volunteer Orientation – 7:00 PM

- May 1 – Outdoor Village and Livery Barn Restaurant will open for the season.

Village News

They’re Back!

   One of the most important things I need to attend to at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) at this time of year is the hiring of leaders for our summer season. I am happy to report that our two major management positions have been filled.

   Dora Penner is returning for a fourth consecutive year to lead our Food Services functions. This includes managing the Livery Barn Restaurant, the Short-Order Booth and our catering services. Over the years many people in our community, as well as guests from other countries, have come to know and appreciate Dora’s brand of culinary excellence. Her ethnic dishes are delightful, and her Saturday brunch and Sunday buffet are top-tier experiences. Cinnamon buns, homemade soup and bread, vereniki and farmer sausage are all just a little more than six weeks away!

   Managing our Food Services functions is a large responsibility, and Dora is already assembling talented staff to support the work in the kitchen. In addition to providing high-quality food, her crew will also offer topnotch customer service. And do remember that guests may access the Livery Barn Restaurant for a fine lunch in a rustic setting without paying admission, unless they plan to also visit the rest of the Village.

   Jared Nickel will be returning to MHV for his fifth season as our Facilities Manager. Jared brings with him a great love for old things, particularly cars and trucks, and a real interest in things mechanical. These qualities serve him and us well at MHV.

   Facilities management is also a very large job. With acres of lawn to be cut; dozens of buildings to be maintained; a barnyard of animals to be cared for; crops to be planted, tended and harvested; and many old vehicles and tractors to be refurbished, there is no end of work and opportunity. So Jared needs many helpers. We are thankful that Enns Brothers has again made it possible for us to have a new line of yard equipment, which makes riding a mower so much more comfortable. Anyone interested? Jared will again be looking for volunteers to help with this work, as well as the other tasks, and will be happy to take applications after April 4.

Annual General Meeting

   What are the reasons people might choose to attend the Annual General Meeting of Mennonite Heritage Village on March 22? Those who have a passion for what the museum is all about would want to be informed of the latest happenings and have a part in making decisions about its future. Those who appreciate the services our museum offers to the community would want to be involved in those initiatives. In light of recent publicity about our Foundations for a Strong Future campaign, some will want to hear how that project is coming along. Perhaps some folks would take this opportunity to volunteer to work at the museum or on one of its committees. And maybe some simply want to enjoy Dora Penner’s doughnuts with a cup of coffee while visiting with friends. All of these are good reasons to attend! Everyone is welcome, although decision-making will be the responsibility of MHV members.

Calendar of Events

-   March 22 - MHV Annual General Meeting, 7:30 PM

April 3 – Vespers Service – 7:00 PM

Village News

A Community Meeting Place

During my years as a student at the Burwalde School, located between Winkler, Morden and Carman, the Burwalde School District was my primary community. While this had much to do with the fact that I spent every weekday in a classroom with all the other children living within a three mile radius of the school, there were other factors that contributed to the creation of this community.

   The school also served as a meeting place for the families of the school district. For years there was a Sunday School session at our school on Sunday mornings. Our mothers would gather there periodically for fellowship, food and service projects, as was common in many churches during that era. When our fathers dropped us off for classes, they would often pause to visit with each other on the schoolyard. This camaraderie extended to the farm yards and fields where they frequently helped each other with farm work. And from time to time, our teacher would plan a skating party or a family night at the school. The family night might include some Three Stooges films, skits by students, and music by parents. All of these activities built community.

   Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) plays a significant role in building community in Southeastern Manitoba. Our summer festival days attract 12,000 to 15,000 people to this place annually. On these days, young families come for a day of fun activities, such as barrel-train rides and a petting zoo, as well as a variety of yummy food options. Adults bring their lawn chairs and their bag of sunflower seeds and spend an afternoon enjoying our musical entertainment. Hundreds of volunteers of various ages donate one or more three-hour shifts as interpreters in our heritage buildings, short-order cooks, parking-lot attendants, cashiers and other helpers. It’s always gratifying to see our community come together like this to socialize and to serve.

   MHV is a gathering place on other days as well. From May through September, many people come to our Livery Barn Restaurant with colleagues, friends or family, particularly enjoying homemade soup and bread on Thursdays, brunch on Saturdays, or the lunch buffet on Sundays. Families enjoy various types of gatherings on our grounds, in the restaurant, or in one of our meeting rooms. Teachers bring students on field trips for hands-on history lessons and a healthy outdoor experience. Many people bring out-of-town friends and relatives to our museum to socialize, relax and enjoy a meal. Without question, MHV is a beautiful and versatile gathering place for thousands of people annually.

   On a more commercial level, our museum is also a meeting place for our business community. Many local organizations hold meetings, training sessions, picnics and parties in our meeting rooms and on the grounds. Businesses bring out-of-town clients to the Livery Barn Restaurant to introduce them to local culture and cuisine.

   MHV has become a popular wedding venue. Weddings are held on the grounds, in our heritage churches or barns, and even on the deck of the windmill. Our auditorium is frequently used for wedding receptions, sometimes for entire wedding celebrations. Our Village and our campus in general frequently provide the setting for wedding and family photo-sessions.

   In times past, the Burwalde School and many other country schools of that era created strong community ties which generated strength and health within their communities. Similarly MHV, along with other local organizations, creates community strength and health by offering meeting spaces and occasions to meet. The added benefit is that MHV itself becomes stronger and healthier as these activities generate interest and income to fund ongoing museum operations.

Calendar of Events

March 22 – 7:30 PM, MHV Annual General Meeting

The views expressed in Community Blogs are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by SteinbachOnline.com

Steinbachonline.com 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.

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