Last weekend we closed the MHV Festival Season with Touch of Christmas, our final festival event. Nearly 600 guests came to enjoy horse drawn sleigh rides, Mr. Ken and Mr. Ben’s Red Nose Christmas Show, The Living Nativity, choir concerts, and homemade cookies and hot chocolate.

Sleigh rides were available each day beginning at 5:00 PM. We are grateful to Menno Barkman, John Hildebrand, John Krahn and Gilbert Therrien for volunteering to bring their teams to provide rides for our guests. The sound of sleigh bells has a particular effect on the atmosphere in The Village on a winter evening. We are thankful for the great weather we enjoyed on both days of the festival. It was very comfortable spending time outside.

Mr. Ken and Mr. Ben are well known entertainers at MHV. They entertained the children at each of our summer festivals. It was nice to have them back with their Red Nose Christmas Show. At the end of their 45 minute show the angels led the audience out to the stable for The Living Nativity.

The Living Nativity is a brief and simple telling of The Christmas Story, including the angels’ appearance to the shepherds, the shepherds’ visit to the stable to see the Christ Child and the journey of the wise men to Bethlehem. The cast of volunteers was backed up by sheep, goats, llamas and a donkey. These four-legged participants proved to be the most popular cast members.

Homemade cookies, hot chocolate and Christmas Carols were a great way to conclude each evening. Anna Falk has become a popular baker at MHV. Her dozens of chocolate-chip, raisin and Grandma cookies disappeared quickly.

On Friday evening the Eastman Male Choir, under the direction of Ed Hildebrand, sang Christmas carols in the Auditorium, inviting the audience to join them in singing the familiar songs. Similarly, on Saturday evening, The Eastman Youth Choir and Friends provided the Caroling experience. We appreciate the effort these groups go to in preparing for Touch of Christmas.

Since Touch of Christmas is not a fundraising event, we need to look at non-monetary factors to try to determine the success of the event. Attendance was up slightly over last year’s event. It seemed to us that a lot of guests, especially children, had a lot of fun with the various activities. Adults seemed to be moved by the realities of The Living Nativity. We hope the experience began to prepare them psychologically for the celebrations of Christmas. We would like to think that these positive experiences will translate into good will toward MHV and future involvement in our festivals and activities.

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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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