Before we move headlong into 2013, let’s take some time to review some of the significant events and experiences at Mennonite Heritage Village in 2012. They will appear below in no particular order.
In an effort to create new and interesting material and experiences at MHV annually, we decided to start developing a theme for each year. For 2012 we chose A Child’s World, From Slate to Tablet. It was beneficial to have this theme guiding our event planning and exhibit creation. As a result, a lot of children, and probably some adults, added to their knowledge about the lives of children at the time when our ancestors came to Canada.
In January 2012 we learned that the City of Steinbach had reduced their grant to MHV and were inviting the community to support us directly rather than through taxation. We have worked hard throughout the year to encourage that kind of relationship with our constituency. As I write, we are still waiting to assess the success of this significant shift.
At our Annual General Meeting in March, the Finance Committee of our board announced a surplus in our 2011 Operating Fund - for the third year in a row. Daryl Braun from AM 1250 and Mix 96 served as the evening’s guest speaker. After the meeting the Board of Directors elected John Klippenstein as its new chair, replacing John Rempel who had served as chair for two years.
Fifty Colorado Blue Spruce trees were donated to the museum in spring. The Steinbach and Area Garden Club provided supervision for the Katimavik volunteers who planted all the trees in one day.
Mothers’ Day was a beautiful day which saw approximately 400 people come to the Livery Barn Restaurant for the Mothers’ Day Buffet. Our restaurant experienced a significant growth in business throughout the year.
Steam Club ’71 had one of their 6-bottom platform plows restored during the winter. During our Spring on the Farm and Fall on the Farm festivals, they hitched their steamer to this plow for some plowing demonstrations. Many guests commented that this was the first time they had ever seen such a demonstration.
The generosity of a number of local individuals and businesses, together with a Community Places Grant, created a fund of $105,000 earmarked for the improvement of our aging facilities - in particular the heritage buildings. This fund provided the resources to install a ceramic tile floor in the Livery Barn Restaurant kitchen and paint the Windmill, the General Store, the Village Centre, the Auditorium and the Livery Barn Restaurant. Those improvements made a significant positive impact on the appearance of the entire Village.
The annual Tractor Trek, our joint fundraising event with Eden Foundation, saw healthy growth, with 55 tractors participating to raise $51,000. An electrical storm caused the cancellation of most of the ride, but despite that complication, drivers enjoyed a lunch provided by the LaBroquerie Community and later a dinner at MHV.
The Kleine Gemeinde, known today as the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, involved us in their bicentennial celebrations by sponsoring an exhibit of their story in our Gerhard Ens Gallery. We are always on the lookout for more partnerships of that nature.
Also in 2012, MHV took on the somewhat unusual project of publishing a historical coffee-table book. Kroeger Clocks was launched at MHV on July 26 and later made the McNally Robinson Best-Sellers List. The book is available in the MHV Book Store for $29.95.
Paraguayan Harpist Eduard Klassen presented a unique concert of sacred music and stories in late July. Approximately 100 guests enjoyed the evening, which also included coffee and dessert.
Wilmer Penner and Sheila Reid presented one of their famous Low-German evenings in June, donating the proceeds of the evening to MHV. Tickets were sold out well in advance of this event.
In addition to the seasonal staff that joined us from May to September, two new staff members have joined our office contingent this past year. Jessica McKague is filling the role of Assistant Curator while Jocelyn Lehotsky is on Maternity Leave, and Tashia Lapeire has taken on the new position of Development Coordinator.
The second annual Heritage Classic Golf Tournament and Pig Roast took place on September 5. This was followed on September 16 by the third annual Open Farm Day, delivered in collaboration with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives. Food seems to get into every event at MHV.
The Board of Directors of Mennonite Heritage Village closed the year by initiating a planning process for our 50th anniversary celebrations taking place in 2014. Our intent is to celebrate in multiple and significant ways.
On behalf of the Staff and Board of MHV, I wish everyone a Happy New Year with many rich blessings. May we again realize how fortunate we are that our ancestors chose to make North America their home.