Getting settled for the commerative Kleine Gemeinde/EMC worship service. Fellowship after the church service.

While Canada Day annually makes its appearance on July 1, it falls on a different day of the week each year. Because most of our staff were not here the last time Canada Day happened on a Sunday, we had no precedent to work with in designing our Canada Day activities for this year.

There are two significant factors to consider in planning this festival when it falls on a Sunday. One is that the festival will be occurring during a long weekend alongside many other festivals. As a result, we are competing with those festivals as well as family camping excursions and cottages at the lake. We seem to have our best Canada Day attendance when the holiday occurs in the middle of the week.

The second factor affecting our planning is the significant way that a Sunday impacts the activities and interpretations offered that day. Many of our volunteers are reluctant to undertake activities that were traditionally not done on Sunday for religious reasons, such as threshing, log sawing, laundry, bread baking, etc. We want to respect these preferences in our structuring of this event. So we planned our 2012 Canada Day Festival with all of this in mind.

One of the unique elements of this year’s festival was the historical worship service. In light of the fact that 2012 is the 200th anniversary of the Kleine Gemeinde/EMC, we invited the leadership of that group to plan and deliver a commemorative worship service. Henry Fast did a fine job of planning and chairing this service. Barry Plett read a “Vorrede” (Introduction) written by Minister Henry R. Dueck nearly 100 years ago. Menno Kroeker read an abbreviated and translated version of a sermon written by Klaas Reimer nearly 200 years ago.

Mennonite Heritage Village had the honor of hosting Steinbach’s only flag-raising ceremony on Canada Day. This took place at 1:00 PM and was opened by a prayer for peace by Pastor Arden Thiessen. We heard brief reflections from The Honourable Vic Toews, Member of Parliament for Provencher and Minister of Public Safety; Kelvin Goertzen, MLA for Steinbach and deputy leader of the Progressive Conservative Caucus; Steinbach’s Mayor Chris Goertzen; and Councilor Bob Brandt representing the RM of Hanover. Following these speeches, Constable Kevin Wynn, Community Liaison Officer with the RCMP, raised the Canadian Flag, and Gerry Sapinsky led us in singing our national anthem. At the completion of this ceremony, we enjoyed birthday cake provided by our baker, Anna Falk.

Food is always significant at MHV. The Livery Barn Restaurant served borsht, vereniki, farmer sausage and other traditional fare. The Short-Order Booth provided burgers, fries, pop and ice-cream, the latter being a popular treat on a hot day. As usual, the MHV Auxiliary was out in full force serving their famous waffles with vanilla sauce and watermelon with rollkuchen.

The entertainment tent was a popular venue this year, with performances by 3 Mol Plaut, Reimer 6, and Island Breeze. Each group seemed to have a considerable following enjoying their music in the shade of the tent.

Children’s entertainers Mr. Ken and Mr. Ben again attracted children to the Kid’s Tent, which also offered face painting, games, drawing and the like. The kids appeared to be enjoying themselves despite the fact that the crayons were literally melting in the heat.

If you missed Canada Day at Mennonite Heritage Village, be sure to plan ahead for your next festival opportunity and mark Pioneer Days on your calendar for August 3-6.

Constable Kevin Wynn raising the Canadian Flag Cutting the Birthday Cake

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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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