A taste of Scottish culture in Penticton

Warm your soul at the Robbie Burns Supper

In the bleak midwinter, there is always one spot of warmth and light to look forward to: the Robbie Burns Supper.

“We have the Scottish Festival in the summertime, but through the winter, one of the key Scottish celebrations is Robbie Burns, celebrating his poetry and life,” said Wayne McDougall, president of the Penticton Scottish Festival society.

This year, the Robbie Burns Supper takes place on Jan. 20 in the Shatford Centre, and features a full traditional menu: cock-a-leekie soup, roast beef, tatties, neeps and carrots, and cranachan for desert. There will also be a vegetarian option available. And of course, there is the haggis, which McDougall said will be piped in with all the traditional pomp, including a reading of Address to a Haggis, a poem written Burns to celebrate his appreciation of the Scottish dish.

“It’s very ceremonious. It’s like the opening of parliament,” said McDougall. “We try to have it as traditional a Burns supper as possible.”

It’s warm, filling fare and a family gathering perfectly fitted to a cold winter evening.

Scotland has many heroes, especially when it comes to warriors, like William Wallace, but Robbie Burns is more of an icon of culture and romance.

“Auld Lang Syne, which most people sing at New Year’s, was written by him,” said McDougall. To a Mouse and A Red, Red Rose are two of his other poems that have remained popular works for more than two centuries.

The poet wasn’t a nobleman; he’s also known as “the ploughman’s poet,” and the supper reflects that, with items like the haggis. While the rich got the best meats, the poorer folk had the less desirable parts, doing what they could and coming up with the haggis, which some might consider a delicacy.

“The popularity of the event is not to be among the elite, but rather the common folk,” said McDougall. “Today it’s a family event.”

Rounding out the evening is a range of entertainment, including members of the Penticton Pipe Band, Emily Mcdonald’s School of Highland Dance, Penticton’s own Gord McLaren, Blakey Irish Dance Okanagan and the Naramata Scottish Country Dancers.

Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets cost $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Tickets are on sale at the Shatford Centre (250-770-7668), McPhail Kilts in the Cannery Trade Centre (250-462-2998) or Robert McMillan (250-809-8571). The venue sponsored by McPhail Kilts and Burley Bagpipes.

Note: The event is now sold out.

Penticton’s Scottish Festival is back this summer in King’s Park, taking place on July 7.

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