“So, it must be slowing down for you these days” is what I often hear, once October and November roll around. People are curious as to what we do in our off-season at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), and many are surprised when I say that it’s very busy, just a different kind of busy.
Once our Village closes in October, visitors still keep arriving. The weather is often quite lovely, and people want to wander the grounds even if all the buildings have been closed up for Winter. There are many monuments and informational signage throughout the Village, plus the two indoor galleries are open for visiting. When the snow falls, our visitor’s drop off until our Winter activities start. There is a skating rink and snowshoeing, kick-sleds and an amazing light display throughout the Village. The back of the General Store is open as a warming hut and the place you pick up the skates or sled’s you have rented. With the twinkling lights, the bon-fire roaring and the horse-drawn sleighs, the atmosphere is magical! Preparing for this keeps us very busy: lights to hang, ice to make, sleigh rides to arrange, streets and trails to groom.
The people who come to the Village in Winter are often here for a special event. Our Auditorium is filled more than 28 different vendors during the Christmas Market (the second Saturday in November). In December, various companies host their staff Christmas parties here. We have Author’s Nights where local book lovers come to hear local authors reading from their works. In February, our Winter Carnival is well attended. Our education department offers programing for school groups, with ‘hands on’ participation or Winter camp options. Of course, all the preparations for these events keeps us very busy: setting up rooms for their renters, prepping crafts for the Kid’s Corner at the Market, contacting volunteers that run the Carnival canteen, arranging for the local authors to read, ordering their books.
Village Books & Gifts
The off season is the time to assess the gift shop. We do inventory of our stock in books as well as our gift items and the local consignment accounts. Many people come to buy unique gifts here, candy, stocking stuffers and of course, the book on Dad’s Christmas list. We make sure the candles and the T-shirts are well stocked to make your shopping easy. The phone still rings, but instead of folks wanting to know our hours of operations or whether we have animals in the barns, it’s people wanting to know if we have crokinole boards and Grandpa’s wormwood ointment. Really, there is never a day to be bored. Always something to get to. There may be a few extra minutes to connect with a client in the shop or with a visitor, but that’s a good thing. It’s just a different kind of busy!
All Year Long
The next time you drive by MHV, and you see 30 cars on the parking lot, you know we are busy. The day after that, you may only see 4, but you now know that we are still busy! Things never really slow down; they just change from season to season. Our busy makes the Village a great place for the community to come together and play. All year long.