Planning an outdoor winter festival is risky business, as attendance can easily and significantly be affected by inclement weather. For this reason, we are thankful that last Saturday was a pleasant day weather-wise. A brief spell of cold afternoon wind didn’t seem to discourage the children and parents enjoying our first Winter Carnival at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV).
From 10 AM till 4 PM, guests came to check out our various outdoor activities. A bonfire provided warm-ups as needed, as well as an opportunity to create s’mores. Music DJ’d by Summer Bounce Entertainment enhanced the overall atmosphere.
The most popular activity appeared to be the horse-drawn bobsleigh rides. Menno Barkman and John Krahn graciously gave of their time to provide the rides, using Menno’s team of Morgans. The hard-packed snow on our village streets made a suitable track for them.
We are grateful to the City of Steinbach for creating a large outdoor skating rink for our guests to enjoy. There are no boards around it, so it’s not a hockey venue, but a number of guests brought their skates and enjoyed the ice surface for pleasure skating. Sledding opportunities were provided by Fast Brothers, who kindly moved a bunch of snow on our yard to create a small hill.
In addition to these activities, guests also enjoyed ice bowling, mini-golf, plank (smoosh) races, tug-of-war, and a beanbag toss, complements of sponsors such as The LumberZone, Birch Auto Supplies, Metalmaster Autobody, Firewood 2 Go and PBX. The temperature was just a little too cold to stage the planned snowman-building contest. Perhaps we’ll try a snow-sculpturing contest next year instead.
In the Village Centre, a beverage bar sponsored by Sweet Life Tea and Coffee Ltd. offered hot chocolate, tea and coffee, as well as some snacks. A canteen staffed by volunteers provided hotdogs and cold drinks sponsored by Sobeys. Each table in the canteen offered one or two table games for guests to enjoy while they warmed their fingers and toes.
It’s appropriate for MHV to stage such an event, as our museum is an established meeting place in the community. We host three summer festivals attended by thousands of local visitors, as well as tourists from far and wide. We like to help people remember where they came from and how they got here. This Winter Carnival focused on activities that go back many decades, maybe longer. No electronic games were part of this carnival.
The fact that so many individuals, businesses and organizations stepped up to contribute products and services for this event tells us there is an appetite for a winter carnival such as this in our community. This was our first attempt at staging one. Although attendance was modest, it was clear that our guests were having a great time. Is there enough interest in our community to build on this event and stage another one next year? We would love to hear thoughts and suggestions from our readers. We’d like to know how you think this festival could be enhanced to provide an even more valuable service to our community.
Calendar of Events
February 22, 7:00 PM - An Evening with the Authors
March 4, 7:00 PM – Vespers Service
March 30, closed for Good Friday
May 1, Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the outdoor village