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Haying in the 30s gears up for biggest event ever

More than 250 volunteers involved

MALLAIG – The 250-plus volunteers who are part of the 21st edition of Haying in the 30s plan to make hay while the sun shines during the Heritage Day long weekend. 

“We are gearing up for the biggest event ever,” Martin Naundorf, president of the Haying in the 30’s Cancer Support Society, told Lakeland Today, last Friday. He said if the emails and phone calls received so far are any indication of the level of interest in this year’s event, attendance could be as high as 5,000 people over the weekend, surpassing previous years when anywhere between 3,500 and 4,000 visitors were recorded. 

Sidelined for two years during the pandemic, the hugely popular event returns this year to take visitors back in time to the era of the 1930s, highlighting an entire farming community from yesteryear carefully and painstakingly resurrected on a plot of land near Mallaig.  

What began with as simple idea by its founder Edgar Corbiere to create an old-time harvest event using antique machinery and horses has literally exploded through the last 20 years as each and every year new attractions are added.  However, one constant has remained and that is to raise money to support people who are battling cancer. 

Since its inception, Haying in the 30s has raised in excess of $5 million and provided a hand up to 6,800 cancer patients. While most everything was paused by the pandemic, cancer was not and so the work of the society continued thanks to the ongoing generosity of people, Naundorf said. 

As final preparations get underway for July 30 and July 31, Naundorf said the large corps of volunteers involved is essential to make the event go off without a hitch. Whether it is parking attendants who face the challenge of sorting parking spots for the never-ending flow of traffic that enters the grounds, or manning the many town buildings, or preparing food for the hungry throng of visitors – each volunteer is invaluable to the overall success of the weekend. 

“Yesterday we butchered five 4-H beef,” Naundorf said, of the work that goes into feeding upwards of 2,500 people they are expecting for Saturday night’s supper. With all the cooking done on site, there is no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen. 

“We can feed 2,500 people in one hour, which is a big bonus,” he said of the well-oiled machine that is the kitchen crew. An expanded kitchen area this year will help with that. 

Throughout the weekend, there are free hot dogs and hamburgers along with non-alcoholic drinks available. The word “free” is key and made possible thanks to the support of many local businesses and individuals who donate huge quantities of food. Naundorf  said the decision to keep the food free is simple. 

“We are there for one thing and that is to help people with cancer. If we start charging at the gate for parking and food, people are not going to donate at the donation booth.” 

A new donation booth has been built for this year’s event and will be open all weekend to receive donations in support of people with cancer.  

While the event itself was not able to be held for the last two years, work bees have been ongoing at the site throughout COVID as people were available. An overhead shed to store some of the antique machinery has been erected. A grist mill from the Shandro Museum has been moved in and is now in working order.  An old-fashioned dentist’s office has also been added. A new raft has been built; a replica of the raft once used to bring settlers to the area on the North Saskatchewan River. 

Demonstrations include fieldwork all done with horses and using the traditional equipment including a threshing machine and a corn-grinder. There will be a working sawmill, a shingle-mill demonstrating the making of cedar shingles, well-boring with horses and a bannock shack where bannock will be made and served with homemade jam. 

Overall, it is shaping up to be another impressive weekend and with the grounds in excellent condition and sunny skies overhead, Naundorf is confident visitors will not be disappointed. 

Opening ceremonies get underway at 10 a.m. July 30 followed shortly afterwards by the kickoff parade. Check out for a complete weekend rundown of events. 

Clare Gauvreau

About the Author: Clare Gauvreau

Clare Gauvreau has worked for the St. Paul Journal for more than 20 years as a journalist, editor and publisher. In her role today as newspaper publisher she continues to contribute news and feature articles on a regular basis.
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