For decades, the Mennonite town of Steinbach, Manitoba was officially dry. No liquor could be bought or sold anywhere in the region. Since then, a number of referendums have taken place that have seen Steinbach liberalize its liquor laws, and today, the town boasts a handful of bars and one liquor store. This fall, the residents of Steinbach will vote on whether or not to acknowledge each other in these establishments or simply avert eye contact and pretend not to notice like they currently do.
“The only time I ever saw a Steinbacher drink was in Puerto Vallerta last winter,” said local closet-drinker Jacob P. Martens. “No one I know admits to buying beer at the local liquor store. I’m not sure how that place stays open. I’ve never been in there, myself…or at least there’s no proof I have.”
The ballot will be kept simple and residents will check, “yo” or “nay.” If passed residents must smile and shake hands when they see someone they know, just like they do in the grocery aisle.
“It will be quite the change to the liquor shopping experience,” says Martens, who claims he’s voting “nay” in September’s poll. “Normally I can go in and out in under five minutes, but if I’ve gotta look people in the eye I might be stuck in there forever.”
Also on the ballot is whether or not to stand just outside the exit and talk for a long time before saying “nayo dan” a few times and then leaving with their purchases.
(photo credit: Razvan Orendovici/CC)