Pioneer Days

August 3 to 5

Supplied photo

The Pioneer Days festival is a longstanding tradition in Steinbach. The annual event, put on by the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) museum, celebrates two noteworthy milestones in 2024. While this year marks 60 years of operation for MHV, Pioneer Days will also fall on the 150th anniversary of Mennonites’ first arrival in Manitoba.

Nathan Dyck, development coordinator at MHV, says there will be special events at the 2024 Pioneer Days to mark the occasion, including a traditional Red River Cart ride, followed by a ceremony with invited members of the Manitoba Métis Federation and local Indigenous communities.

“The idea is that it will correspond (almost to the day) when Mennonites first arrived at the Steinbach site in 1874,” Dyck says. “Of course, they relied heavily on their First Nations and Métis neighbours to support them in that first year, considering they arrived in August, far too late to plant crops ... Unfortunately, those stories haven’t been told that well in the past, and we’re trying to do a better job of telling them now.”

Dyck says the anniversary will also be marked with a screening of a new documentary film by Dale Hildebrand, a Manitoba-born, Toronto-based Mennonite filmmaker.

The regular fun and feasting of Pioneer Days will still be available to attendees visiting MHV, an authentic restoration of a traditional Manitoba Mennonite village.

“We do have historical interpretation,” Dyck says. “We’ll have a blacksmith working throughout the day. We’ll have people running the mill ... We’ll have teachers in the two schools – we have a public school and a private school – exemplifying the Mennonite German private-school experience. We’ll have horse-drawn wagon rides ... we have a printery, so they’ll be using the old plate and press printers. We usually have examples of old threshing methods (as well as) one of the sawmills from Clear Lake.”

Published in Volume 78, Number 25 of The Uniter (May 30, 2024)

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