Greg Sabatino photoThe Williams Lake Pipe Band welcomes visitors to last year’s Robbie Burns Night at the Royal Canadian Legion. This year’s event will take place Jan. 20. Tickets are $35 and area available at the legion.

Haggis tops menu for annual Robbie Burns Night

Celebration of Scottish poet to be held Jan. 20

“Great chieftain o the puddin’ race! Aboon them a’ ye tak your place, painch, tripe, or thairm: Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace as lang’s my arm.”

The address to haggis is only one of the many moments that make Robbie Burns Night a rousing success.

Held near the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, in 1759, the event celebrates all things Scottish: bagpipes, Scottish dancers, and of course: — the haggis.

This year’s program is being held at the Royal Canadian Legion on Jan. 20. Cocktails start at 5:30 p.m. and the event is family friendly.

“Robbie Burns is the national poet of Scotland and he was really well known because he spoke to the people,” said Vivian MacNeil, who organizes the event. “He didn’t talk any high falooting language like they did in those days.”

Indeed Robbie Burns’ poems are written in Scottish brogue and often include a healthy dose of humour.

For the event, the Legion is decked out in Scottish towels and tartan: “it looks like a medieval castle as much as you can make it,” according to MacNeil. “I have tartan coming out of my ears.”

The dinner includes the great chieftain of the puddin’ race (haggis), bashed neeps (prime rib and turnips), tipsy laird (trifle) and other delicacies. The haggis is provided by Margetts Meats.

The pipers and helpers are paid in Drambuie, and the speeches: Immortal Memory, a Nod to the Lassies, and the Reply to the Laddies keep people coming year after year.

After the feast, the Remarkables will take the stage so peo

ple can continue to dance all night long.

The Williams Lake Pipe Band will also be on hand for the entertainment, as well as dancers, said MacNeil, if they can find some.

“It’s quite an extensive program and it’s lots of fun,” she said.

The night is an annual tradition in Williams Lake and is often sold out, so get your tickets early.

Doug White was born in Scotland, and attends Robbie Burns Night on a yearly basis.

He said his mother adored Burns growing up.

“He was 37 when he died and the stuff he got through before that just boggles my mind,” he said.

He said that he’d travelled to Burns’ part of Scotland as a “little shaver” and even when he was in Germany as part of the army he attended a Burns Night in an officer’s mess.

“Come on down,” said MacNeil. “It’s a great evening, we have a nice dinner, and we have entertainment,” she said, encouraging attendees to dress up.

As for people who are feeling hesitant about the haggis:

“Have they tried it? It’s just like a sausage. I don’t know why people make such a fuss.”

Tickets are $35 for adults and $12 for children and are available at the legion.

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