Weddings in August

It seems that this year August was the most popular wedding month at Mennonite Heritage Village. Six couples chose to have their weddings here. Three were outdoor weddings, two were in the Lichtenau Church and one was on the deck of the windmill. We are not aware that anyone has ever spoken their wedding vows on the windmill deck before. Photos of this wedding can be seen on this blog site and on our Facebook site.

Six couples chose to have their wedding receptions at MHV in August. A number of these receptions were held under the tent, at least one was outside on picnic tables and several were held in the Auditorium in the Village Centre. The latter is a very common venue for wedding receptions. Photos of the Auditorium decorated for various wedding receptions can also be seen on our Facebook site.

Six couples came to MHV in August just to have their wedding pictures taken. Photographers readily find great backdrops for wedding photos in the village, in the heritage buildings and even in the Village Centre. Some of these photos are on our Facebook site as well.

Weddings are already being booked for next year. Call Marigold at 326-9661 to reserve the day and location of your choice.

New Billboards

In recent weeks we have installed two new MHV billboards on major highways. The billboard on the Trans-Canada Highway just east of Paradise Village and the one on Highway 59 just south of Highway 52 have both been replaced. The talented people at RT Signs have done fine work in designing and producing the billboards. John Fehr, a well known local contractor, graciously volunteered to refurbish the support structures and hang the signs. All of this was made possible by a couple of grants from the Steinbach Credit Union. We are so pleased to be part of a supporting community.

Detmold Museum

Friday, July 22, 2011, marked the official opening of the new Museum für Russlanddeutsche Kulturgeschichte (Museum for the Cultural History of Germans from Russia) in Detmold, Germany. The selection of July 22 as the opening date was to commemorate the 248th anniversary of the Manifest issued by Catherine the Great inviting Germans and other Western Europeans to settle in Russia.

Some months prior to the official opening, at the suggestion of board member Lawrence Klippenstein, the Board of Directors of Mennonite Heritage Village, decided it would be appropriate to send a gift from MHV to the Detmold Museum. While their story has a slightly different focus, it also has elements in common with the MHV story, specifically the Russian experience. Board member Rudy Friesen quickly volunteered to personally represent MHV at this official opening and present our gift.

It was decided that the gift should be something that would offer a permanent and visible link between the two museums. A handmade pair of children’s socks was selected as the appropriate gift. The socks were knit by Susanna Neufeld, nee Heinrichs, who was born in 1892 in South Russia, which is today Ukraine. In 1912 she married Gerhard Neufeld, who was murdered by rebel forces in 1920. Susanna Heinrichs Neufeld emigrated to Canada in 1924 and was known to be a talented seamstress.

Our Senior Curator, Roland Sawatzky, collaborated with the staff at Presenting Art in Steinbach to create an attractive framed display containing one of the socks as well as words of greeting and explanation. This gift was then taken to Detmold by Rudy Friesen and presented to Dr. Katharina Neufeld, the Director of the Detmold Museum, on July 22. The matching sock will be similarly mounted and displayed at MHV to recognize and declare our relationship with this museum in Germany.

Relationships with other museums are important and worth nurturing. Every museum has unique elements in its exhibits and operations. Many times we can learn from one another. People who visit one museum are often likely to visit other museums as well. In this case, visitors to MHV will be made aware of the Detmold Museum and vice versa. By sharing ideas and artifacts, we will become stronger individual entities, better equipped to do the work of a museum.

MHV Board Member Rudy Friesen and Dr. Katharina Neufeld, Director of the Detmold Musuem.

Wedding on the Windmill

We think it's the first time it's ever been done. On Sunday, August 21 a couple pledged their eternal love for one another on the deck of the windmill. The audience was seated at the base of the windmill. The procession made it's way up the steps to the main entrance. The party then disappeared into the building and resurfaced on the deck.

The weather cooperated wonderfully including a gentle wind coming from the west which oriented the sales of the windmill almost perfectly. When I arrived at the museum in the morning the wind was clearly out of the north. I was told that the groom had sincerely asked God to provide a west wind to move the sales to the appropriate position.

The reception was held on picnic tables in the MHV "food court."

Heritage Golf Classic

One of the new fundraising events planned for this year is the Heritage Golf Classic. This tournament will take place on September 7 at the Steinbach Fly-In Golf Course. The format is Texas Scramble with a shotgun start at 10:00 AM. Significant prizes are in store for participants, including a $10,000 hole-in-one prize. The day will be capped with a pig-roast dinner at MHV. Call Stan at 326-9661 to register.

Volunteer Opportunities

MHV could not survive without volunteers. Here are a number of areas in which we could currently use volunteer help:

Our last festival of the summer, “Fall on the Farm,” is coming up on Labour Day and will again require over a hundred volunteers. The deck of the windmill and the fence along the walk up to the windmill need fresh paint, as does the trim on the Village Centre. We have trucks, tractors and other equipment that need to be restored and would make great projects for retired mechanics. We would like to see one of our platform plows fixed so that the Steam Club could hitch their steamer to it for a great (and somewhat unique) plowing demonstration. We need a videographer to make some short videos of MHV and its activities for posting on blog sites, Facebook and Youtube. The Peters Barn still needs a lot of work; it would be great to have a crew of carpenters offering a Saturday or two to make progress on that restoration project. Our outdoor oven needs some concrete repair. Is there someone with that skill who would be willing to volunteer some time for that repair?

If you want to volunteer in any of the above areas, please call 326-9661 and let us know. We’ll be sure that you make contact with the right person.

Archeological Dig

The archeological dig at the former site of the Village of Blumenhof continues. Virtually every day the staff come back from the site excited about a new artifact discovered in the ground. This week the crew has been assisted by a number of Steinbach Regional Secondary School students who have volunteered to do this work. We appreciate their help and our relationship with the SRSS.

Windmill Fire

Last week one of the two men accused of setting fire to the windmill at Mennonite Heritage Village eleven years ago was given a two-year sentence to be served in the community and a year of probation on completion of that two-year term. The judge, as well as both counselors, emphasized the gravity of this crime. They also acknowledged the role of the accused in bringing closure to this old case through his voluntary confession and also noted his attitude of remorse.

We are thankful for the degree of closure that MHV, the accused and his family will experience through this sentence. It is also encouraging to hear that the accused has experienced a significant realignment of his moral compass in recent years.

Pioneer Days

Mr. Ken is popular with the kids.

Problem solving under a shade tree. It doesn't get any better.

John, Thelma and Louise plowing.

It looks interesting but very dusty.

Pioneer Days, our signature festival, has come and gone for another year. Quickly we direct our attentions toward assessing the things that went well and the things that need some change. This analysis is done by staff who have a considerable amount of pride in what they do at Mennonite Heritage Village. Needless to say our assessments may not be entirely free of bias. It would be great to hear how our visitors experienced this event and any suggestions they have to improve it. We welcome your calls at 326-9661 and your emails at [email protected].

One of the highlights of this year’s festival was seeing the support and involvement or our community. MHV is a not-for-profit organization with some internal income but with a heavy dependence on grants and donations to provide funding for its operations and development. A supportive community is essential to our success.

While the lions share of Pioneer Days activities take place at MHV, the community comes on board with a variety of supporting events. The Steinbach Chamber of Commerce plans and delivers a Pioneer Days parade on our opening day. This creates significant publicity and momentum for our festival. There is always a surge of visitors entering the gates immediately on completion of the parade.

Some local businesses take advantage of the fact that there is a festival in the city and build promotions around it. A number of grocery stores ran Pioneer Days promotions this year. Clearspring Centre ran significant publicity around their own Pioneer Days activities and promotions. The more the community rallies around such an event, the more benefit the community will experience.

Volunteers are another significant contribution from the community. Approximately 500 people, some from as far away as Winnipeg, spent some time volunteering at our festival. They cooked, drove horses, collected tickets, helped people find parking places, told stories, guided tours, tended our flower beds and the list goes on. If we had to hire 500 people to work a 3 hour shift and if we paid them $10 per hour for their work we would have to spend $15,000 on labour.

Every year we give local businesses the opportunity to sponsor our summer festivals. In exchange for sponsorship we publicly recognize their contributions to these events. Sponsorship is another way in which our community gets behind us and helps us tell the stories we are here to tell.

Menno Apparel

There are aspects of the story of the Mennonites, going back to the sixteenth century, that are profoundly moving and inspirational. The determination and loyalty of the martyrs, and the vision and persistence of those who left their homeland to migrate to a new land, should be respected and celebrated.

That being said, there are times were we as individuals, and maybe we as a people-group, need to look in the mirror and collectively laugh at ourselves. Jonathan Korneslsen, the designer and producer of Menno Apparel, is trying to help us do just that. He has created slogans, together with some graphics, which both entertain us and reflect an element of our culture. These slogans are then screened on to tee-shirts and aprons.

For example one tee-shirt says, “Mennonites put the Oba in Manitoba.” “Oba” is a frequently used term in Low German, the language that has served the Mennonites for centuries. One of his aprons designed for men reports, “Sure Mennonite girls can cook, but Mennonite boys can eat.” Mennonite Girls Can Cook is a very successful series of cookbooks.

Village Books and Gifts, the gift shop at MHV is the exclusive seller of Menno Apparel in the Steinbach area. Here is another great Christmas gift idea for the person who already has everything. The gift shop is open 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday and will be open on Saturdays from November 15 till Christmas.

About the Author

Gary is responsible for the overall management of MHV. Guiding the staff, informing the board, and networking with officials, volunteers, corporate sponsors, individual donors and other guests. He has a business diploma and a MA in Global Studies from Providence Theological Seminary. With his family he did humanitarian work for 18 years in Asia, including being a CEO of a Compost Enterprise in China. He loves to discuss the Mennonite story and how it is relevant in our world. Learn more about the MHV. is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.