It’s nearly time for the Manitoba Agricultural Museum’s Seniors’ Day, held each year at the museum, south of Austin, on the first Tuesday of June (June 3 this year). Hosted by the museum and the Austin Chamber of Commerce, it’s a day of companionship, entertainment, demonstrations and food. It is dedicated to seniors, and most attendees will fit that category, but younger people are welcome too, especially those interested in Manitoba’s rural history or farm life. My husband and I attended last year for the first time and quite enjoyed it.
Most years a few hundred people attend, some from quite a distance. Last year there was a whole busload from Winnipeg. We also noticed handivans from seniors’ residences and care homes. Van loads from Oak Lake, Shoal Lake and even Argyle, Saskatchewan had come for the day.
Registration begins about 9 a.m. with most people arriving a little later. However, if it’s your first visit, and you want free time to explore the grounds and buildings, try to arrive in good time. The buildings are all open, although usually without volunteers during this event. Definitely plan to take a walk through the Homesteaders’ Village. Explore the two one-room schools, the blacksmith shop, the churches and the pioneer houses. Be sure to check out the Transportation Building, a newer exhibit showing the history of transportation in Manitoba, which is very interesting. There is also the huge display of vintage machinery, particularly numerous tractors.
For those who aren’t up to a lot of walking, rides are provided through the Homesteaders’ Village and around the museum grounds in horse-drawn and tractor-drawn wagons. Transportation includes shuttle service for those in wheelchairs.
This year the cost for the day will be $15. This includes complimentary coffee and a doughnut when you register; a cold plate lunch with beverage and dessert at noon; and cinnamon buns and coffee around 3 p.m. The first round of buns is baked in the museum’s outdoor oven, while later ones come from a bakery.
Various demonstrations are given throughout the day. In the main building we watched one volunteer demonstrate spinning while another spent all morning hand-washing and wringing clothing items with an old-fashioned wringer — over and over and over. We also enjoyed the various tables of local artwork, crafts and books. One corner of the building displayed beautiful quilts which will be shown again this year, and also, displays will be adding woodcarving to the mix.
Other demonstrations we enjoyed included the old-time threshing where a couple of volunteers tossed a rack load of sheaves into the threshing machine. Despite dust in the air, this was a good opportunity to take photos of history in action. It takes place around 11 a.m. so arrange your day to fit this in.
The sheep-shearing demonstration was also particularly interesting. The shearers had brought several sheep which seemed to relax back against the shearer and actually enjoy the procedure — probably happy to be rid of that thick, warm coat.
Musical entertainment by various groups was provided following the luncheon. Last year’s entertainment included the Métis Prairie Steppers, a group of young dancers from the Portage and Elie area. With their colourful costumes and lively dancing, they were a crowd favourite. Because of their popularity, these dancers will return for this year’s program.
If you’re interested in attending the Seniors’ Day, it is held at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum, three kilometres south of the junction of Hwy. No. 1 and PTH No. 34. Check the website for further details at www.ag-museum.mb.ca or telephone 204-637-2354. Those planning to attend, especially with a group, are asked to pre-register with Don Makinson at 204-637-2533 (or [email protected]) by May 22 to help in meal plans. However, individuals who haven’t pre-registered may still attend as extra meals are always prepared.
Mark June 3 on your calendar for this event, and plan to attend!