Now that 2011 is behind us and we’ve reviewed some of the highlights of the year, it’s time to look forward into 2012. Here are some of the new year’s activities and developments we’re excited about at Mennonite Heritage Village.

Our Auditorium Gallery will soon be exhibiting a new and locally oriented photography display. This exhibit will be done by Kyle McIntosh’s photography class and some additional local photographers. It will feature photographs taken at the Mennonite Heritage Village. Samples of Kyle’s photography can be seen on our Facebook site.

2012 marks the two hundredth anniversary of the beginnings of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, formerly known as the “Kleine Gemeinde,” in Russia. Today Steinbach is the home of the main offices of the EMC. This year MHV and the EMC will collaborate on a new exhibit for the Gerhard Ens Gallery. This exhibit will be on display during the summer months.

Visitors to MHV will likely see more than the usual amount of facility repairs happening this summer, especially painting. Through the generosity of a number of local individuals and businesses, a significant amount of money has been pledged for the repair and maintenance of our facilities. In an effort to leverage this money, we have applied for a Community Places grant to bring the total funding to slightly over $100,000. We will see a new boardwalk on our main street, new siding and paint on the General Store and the Livery Barn Restaurant, and new paint on a number of other buildings including the Village Centre and the windmill.

It’s been suggested that some local people have been choosing not to have lunch at the Livery Barn Restaurant on a work day because the debit machine is too slow. We have taken this seriously and have installed a high speed line to both the restaurant and the General Store. This new technology has been funded by a donation from the MHV Auxiliary. We look forward to providing faster and better customer service in 2012.

We have also been told that since there is nothing new at MHV, one need only visit once every 7 to 10 years. This is a misconception. Several times a year we install new exhibits in our various temporary galleries. In the last several years we have expanded the level of children’s entertainment provided on our festival events. Each year these events offer new and different entertainment options.

In 2012 we will take another significant step in providing new things for visitors to see and experience each year. An annual theme will guide our program plans. This year the theme will be “Child’s Play? From Slate to Tablet.” Our exhibits, our education program and our festival events programs will seek to help our guests get a glimpse into the lives and activities of children 100 or more years ago.

One of our strategic priorities is education. We seek to educate our guests about the experiences of Mennonite immigrants from Russia. The effectiveness of teaching programs can be enhanced through hands-on and emotional experiences. In 2012 we will continue our pursuit of interactive teaching methods throughout the organization. One of our first objectives is to develop and provide an interactive, touch-screen world map designed to exhibit Mennonite population clusters around the world. We anticipate collaborating with the Mennonite World Conference on this project. It will be a springboard to other interactive projects over the next years.

Every year Steam Club ’71 fires up their steamer and does threshing and log sawing demonstrations on some of our festival event days. Back in its day, these were some of the main functions of the steamer. The steamer was also used to pull a plow. Through the generosity of and interested donor, we are having a platform plow restored and weather permitting, will demonstrate steam powered plowing on several of our festival event days in 2012.

So for those who believe nothing changes at MHV, come and visit us again in 2012 and give us feedback on all the new things you see.

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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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