Pioneer Days

   Pioneer Days is one of Steinbach’s signature summer festivals and the climax of our summer season at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). This year the festival runs from July 29 through August 1, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and closing at 6:00 p.m. daily. As usual, we will pack as much fun and education into those four days as we possibly can.

   There are a number of reasons why we host this summer festival. One of the primary purposes is to promote the work of MHV within our constituency. With cooperation from the City of Steinbach and the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce, this festival is always initiated on Friday morning with the Pioneer Days Parade. As usual, this year’s parade will start at the Fire Hall and make its way downtown along Main Street. Thousands of spectators will likely gather on the sidewalks to enjoy this event. Assuming suitable weather, we expect to see up to 7,000 guests visiting our museum grounds during those four festival days. While many of our guests will be from Southeastern Manitoba, there will also likely be many from Winnipeg and other parts of the province, as well as other provinces and countries.

   Another significant reason for holding Pioneer Days at MHV is to expose our guests to the culture and heritage of the Russian Mennonite people. Our heritage buildings will be staffed by volunteer interpreters who will explain to our guests what a worship service was like in the Old Colony Worship House, how a school classroom functioned differently in the Public School as compared to the Private School, and what unique features can be found in the Chortitz House Barn. Volunteers will also do pioneer demonstrations such as bread baking in the outdoor oven, steam-powered threshing, blacksmithing, log sawing, and butter making. In some cases, guests will be given the opportunity to try their hand at some of these activities.

   Organizing and staging Pioneer Days also creates meaningful activity around which our community can gather and nurture community spirit. In addition to parade involvement, people are invited to volunteer for a wide variety of roles during this festival. There are opportunities to welcome guests at the admission gates, help guests find a place to park their cars, prepare and serve food in the Short-Order Booth, drive the barrel train and the horse-drawn wagons, and many others.

   There will be bands playing in the tent each afternoon, providing entertainment for those who are enjoying waffles and vanilla sauce around picnic tables, as well as those who bring lawn chairs and sunflower seeds to sit in the shade and enjoy the music. Children will be busy running from the petting zoo to the barrel train to the kids’ activity tent to the horse-drawn wagon rides. And when their energy begins to wane, they will stop at the candy booth to refuel.

   With 7,000 guests coming through our gates, we will expect a significant cash injection into our coffers. While this has a considerable impact on our cash position, Pioneer Days actually generates less than 10% of our total operating revenue. Since MHV is a charity, every dollar is important, and we value every admission ticket, souvenir, meal and ride purchased here.

   Our upcoming Pioneer Days festival will again give us the opportunity to share stories and information from our past, attract thousands of tourists and other guests to our community, and provide local residents with a celebratory summer festival.

Calendar of Events

- July 29–August 1: Pioneer Days - 9:00-6:00 daily

- August 8-12: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 9-12

- August 10: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks

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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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