The 2012 Weyburn Wheat Festival attracted people from far and wide and the Heritage Village Days saw a large increase in visitors. The estimated attendance was approximately 1,200, while only 750 signed the registries this year.
At no charge, visitors could tour the buildings in the village to get a glimpse of early Weyburn and area. Each space had a volunteer willing to tell visitors all about the noteworthy stories and arteficts held within its walls.
"So many of our volunteers said that they didn't get any complaints this year," said Drew Bakken, who is one of the two summer students employed at Heritage Village.
"It was really steady and the weather was good," he added. Last year the weather was threatening a tornado, which nearly sent the big tent to the ground.
Bakken is an Urban Planning student at Concordia University. The other summer student working at the village, Katelyn Lamont, recently completed a Health Care Assistant Certificate at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. The two share the duties of conducting tours at the historical 'theme park', but next year they will not be returning as summer students, as Bakken will also be graduating next spring.
The park has become quite the attraction in recent years in the capable hands of the summer students and this year's festival days went off without a hitch.
"The event was a huge success with over $3,300 being raised through gate donations, the silent auction, bake sale and concession and barbeque," said Matthew Warren, Director of Leisure Services for the City of Weyburn.
"There were a lot of things to do at each time of the day," said Lamont. "Black-smithing, ice-cream making, butter making, bread making, sheep-herding. There was just so much to do."
Lamont said that even the stage filled up with a different local performer each hour, which has never happened before.
Good weather and plenty to see and do, including the ambient jolly sounds of the Calliope, which comes just once every five years to Weyburn, set the tone for a delightful weekend.
But anyone who has been a regular patron to Heritage Village over the years has become well aware of the stunning beauty and cheerful vistas that Joan Drouillard-Honig has created.
Joan began by volunteering in the early 1990s, at first only during the Wheat Festival, then she planted the designated the flowers in existing beds. Eventually, she helped to begin the much-needed tree planting.
"Before, you did not have anything to break you from that sun and it was hot," she said. "They're not huge yet, but at least you have a little bit of shade now."
She estimates that it was around 1995 when she began bringing plants from home to begin her first bed at the village. The first plant she brought was a mint variety that her own mother had brought back from a visit home to Fort William, ON, in 1955.
"That's the stuff they had always used in their spaghetti sauce," said Joan. "Of course mom had missed it, so when she came back she brought the mint. Anywhere she moved after that, she'd take it. Same with us kids, we'd take a patch of the mint with us too."
Heirloom plants included, Joan has populated Heritage Village with any plants she has acquired, with thousands being donated each year. There are astounding numbers of flowering perennials, as well as trees and shrubs. In fact, there are five maple trees in a row, one for each of Joan's children.
"It starts with Greg and Laurel, then Julian, Andre and Leena," she said with a proud smile as she pointed to each maple in a row along the main street of the village.
One could easily fill an afternoon following Joan around the grounds, learning about plants and about the special features. For example, Joan's Rock Garden includes tindal stone seats that were once window ledges at the former Souris Valley hospital.
In honour of Joan Drouillard-Honig's breath-taking contribution to the village grounds, the City of Weyburn is inviting the public to a Garden Tour at Heritage Village. The tour will provide anyone and everyone the opportunity to have Joan show her masterful work, to which she has devoted so much of her time and energy.
"She won woman of the year, so we wanted to give her a day so she could show off the flowers," said Lamont, referring to how Joan won the Woman of the Year award for Community Service in April.
The Garden Tour will be from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 26.
Heritage Village will be open until the end of day on August 31. Historical tours are $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for youth and seniors, $2.00 for children and are free for five-years-old and under. Anyone who just wants to admire the landscape can do so for free, every day. The chances are good that Joan will be there!
"I work right up until the snow flies," said Joan.