By Greg Nikkel
The 18th annual Weyburn Wheat Festival will feature a tribute to Weyburn-born literary legend W.O. Mitchell, as the 100th anniversary of his birthday will be celebrated this year.
There will also be many activities, displays and events for the Wheat Festival in different venues around the city from Aug. 7-10.
“We’re featuring the birth of W.O. Mitchell 100 years ago, and his son Orm and wife Barb will be here to help celebrate with us. That’s pretty exciting,” said Maureen Clay, chair of the Wheat Festival organizing committee.
To celebrate Mitchell’s birthday, the Crocus 80 Theatre will present performances of “Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons” at the T.C. Douglas Centre, with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. each night, and a matinee on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Orm and Barb Mitchell will arrive in the city on Friday, and after a reception on Friday, Orm will give remarks at the start of the production of the “Jake and the Kid” play on Friday and Saturday, plus he will give readings of W.O.’s work on Saturday afternoon at the Weyburn Public Library at 2 p.m. before he also provides remarks for Saturday evening’s performance.
The T.C. Douglas Centre will be open to visitors from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, in addition to being the host site for the Crocus 80 production of “Jake and the Kid” performances.
“This will also be the first year that Weyburn’s roller derby team, the Strait Jackettes, will have a game on the Saturday, at the Curling Rink, and also the Farmer’s Market will take place on both the Friday and Saturday at the mall. They haven’t had a market since May, so we’re looking forward to that,” said Clay.
“The Heritage Village Days are the mainstay of the Wheat Festival, and they will be open throughout the weekend. Plus, we will have the people mover again, running from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They run every hour, and leave from the City Centre Mall, and go to the Soo Line Historical Museum and up to the Heritage Village.”
She also noted a highlight for the Sunday is that the Weyburn Ministerial Association will host the Wheat Festival praise and worship service at Grace United Church on Sunday at 3 p.m., with involvement by many of the city’s churches. The offering from the service will go to the Canadian FoodGrains Bank, in support of their program of providing food aid to areas that are experiencing drought or famine or war, and are facing extreme hunger.
Overall, said Clay, “There’s something for everybody, and most venues are cost-free. So for a donation, you can take part in all the events and activities around the city.”
Heather Cugnet, president of the Weyburn Horticulture Society, is hoping many residents will be able to make their way down to Knox Hall on Friday afternoon to see the annual Horticulture Show, and also invites anyone interested to bring in an entry. People do not have to be a member of the Hort. Society to enter the annual show.
There are a variety of classes and categories, ranging from house plants and cut flowers to garden flowers (like sweetpeas, dahlias, gladiolus), to floral art, floral arrangements, fruit and vegetables.
The Hort. Society will also provide their strawberry shortcake tea room at the Knox Hall, with the show open for public viewing from noon to 5 p.m.
To enter, contact June Cull for a show book, with entries to be at Knox Hall on the Thursday evening between 7 and 9 p.m., or on Friday morning between 7 and 8:30 a.m., with judging to begin at 9:30.
There will be cash prizes and trophies for those who enter the annual show, to be awarded in all the categories.
“We look forward to anyone entering, and we’ll certainly help you if you need a number for an entry. I look forward to everybody coming out to see what’s grown in the area,” said Cugnet.
Another perennial favourite has been the bread-baking contest, which this year will only be for hand-made loaves of bread, said Joan Gregory, manager of the Soo Line Historical Museum where the contest is hosted.
She noted there are six categories this year, including white, whole wheat, multi-grain, speciality, and white and brown buns. There is a limit of one entry per person per category, and there will be prizes awarded for first, second and third places.
The entries for the contest have to be in to the museum by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 7.
The entries will be on display on Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and they are available to be bought via silent auction; the auction will close by about 4 p.m., said Gregory.
The prizes will be gift certificates from the Co-op, hats and water bottles from Parrish and Heimbecker, or a purse from York Jewellers.
“The entries were down last year, so we hope there will be more entries this year,” said Gregory, adding the admission to the museum will be free for Friday and Saturday during the Wheat Festival.
In addition, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the museum will be selling homemade bread, and saskatoon and rhubarb pies, either by the slice or whole to take home.
There will be a wide variety of activities available to see at the Heritage Village, said Murray Keefe, a volunteer for the village board.
“The houses will be open with volunteers at most of them, the engines will be running, and bread will be baked in the outdoor oven. There will also be children’s activities, rope-making, butter-making, and a full concession with saskatoon pie and homemade ice cream,” said Keefe, adding there will be an entertainment stage set up, and posters at the village will give a full listing of the entertainment.