At this time of year it’s not uncommon for the media and other organizations to review highlights of the past year. Given that Mennonite Heritage Village’s mandate involves remembering the past, it’s appropriate for us to consider our highlights of 2011.
In January the Board of Directors of MHV decided to step into the world of book publication. It was seen as one of the activities our museum should be involved in to expand its role in preserving and interpreting history. We will be releasing Arthur Kroeger’s book on Kroeger clocks early in the new year.
In February we celebrated the contributions made to Mennonite Heritage Village by one of our founders and longest-serving board members. Gerhard Ens, a longtime educator, minister, radio broadcaster, and supporter of the preservation and interpretation of Mennonite history, passed on to his eternal rest. His legacy at MHV is significant.
March brought the opening of a new art exhibit in the Gerhard Ens Gallery. The Art of Kornelius Epp: A Retrospective displayed paintings and sketches by this well-known Mennonite artist. Epp, a conscientious objector, started painting in a Siberian labour camp and continued his work after fleeing to Canada via Germany and Paraguay.
In April we were pleased to see a number of last year’s seasonal staff return for another summer at MHV. Benjamin Klassen, our Facilities Manager; Helen Bergen, our Food Services Manager; Kim Plett, our Education Program Coordinator; and Anna Falk, our baker, all returned to take on key leadership roles.
May was busy as the Village opened to the public and the Education Program shifted into high gear. Together with the Southeast Implement Collectors, we staged the annual Spring on the Farm and Tractor Show. New staff arrived to support these and other activities.
A replica of a 1902 Olds, built by the late Peter J. Toews and a number of young friends, took up residence in our Transportation Exhibit in June. The car was restored by Mr. Toews’ son Elbert with the help of Harry Toews. Ledingham GM partnered with us as a sponsor of the car.
In July, board member Rudy Friesen represented MHV at the official opening of the Museum für Russlanddeutsche Kulturgeschichte (Museum for the Cultural History of Germans from Russia) in Detmold, Germany. This visit was seen as the start of an ongoing relationship with that museum.
August saw the restoration of two billboards on Southeastern Manitoba highways. This was also the month in which we started a community blog on steinbachonline.com. Earlier in the year we had initiated a Facebook account. We understand communication to be important.
In September we staged our first annual Heritage Classic Golf Tournament and Pig Roast. The participation of 73 golfers, with support by the MHV Auxiliary and many generous community sponsors, made this a great first event. Be sure to watch for the “second annual” in 2012.
At our Volunteer Appreciation Evening in October, our faithful and numerous volunteers were once again thanked for their work. As stated many times in the past, the work of MHV could not succeed without its volunteers.
In November it was our privilege to be the site of the Annual General Meeting and Awards Ceremony of the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce. We enjoyed this partnership with the Chamber and the opportunity to rub shoulders with so many community business people.
In December we enjoyed seeing many people shopping at the MHV Book and Gift Shop in the Village Centre. Mennonite Girls Can Cook has been the most popular item this year. We were also thankful for a steady stream of cash donations from many loyal supporters.
These are only a few of the many highlights of 2011. We are grateful for a good year at MHV and look forward to new and exciting experiences in 2012.