© Southwest Booster photo by Jason Kerr.
Watermelon Festival 2014
Organizers are calling the 2014 Watermelon Festival at Swift Current’s Mennonite Village one of the best attended ever.
The annual afternoon event regularly attracts large crowds from across the province, and this year was no exception as visitors lined up from the serving tables all the way to the entrance gates to have a taste of summer.
“Today was very successful,” said Agatha Dyck, organizing committee treasurer and volunteer co-ordinator. “The sun was shining upon us today.”
While attendees enjoyed watermelon, a live band and tours of the museum, the event did have a more serious purpose. The Mennonite Village is organized and run entirely by volunteers, and the festival is one for their biggest fundraisers.
“For our summer programs we do get a grant from parks and recreation, but mostly we raise our own money,” Dyck explained.
And if you have to raise money, there is no tastier way. In addition to the watermelon there was roll kucken (which can be spelled as one word or two), a type of dough deep fried in canola oil.
“It’s a very traditional treat in the Mennonite Culture,” Dyck said.
It takes a crew of six people about three hours to prepare enough dough for this size of gathering. Later it’s carried to a feeder pot in the village barn, where the dough is cooked. Dyck said the cooking is actually the quickest part of the operation.
“They’re deep fried very quickly, not saturated with oil. They’re crisp and tasty.”
The Mennonite Village provides visitors with an opportunity to learn about the homesteading lifestyle and early pioneers. The numerous buildings include a barn, a house and a church. Dyck said the village provides allows people to glimpse a way of life that no longer exists, and to learn more about where they came from.
“There are young people who come and they want to know everything about it,” she explained. “Every summer there are individuals here who are looking for their roots.”
The summer events at the village aren’t just limited to the Watermelon Festival either. On August 17th the village will hold a celebration in honour of the church building, which was built 100 years ago. The event is expected to draw a sizeable crowd, including guests who were either married or baptized in the church.