Premier keynote speaker at Burns dinner
© Heather KIllen photo
Premier Stephen McNeil is this year's keynote speaker at the Burns night dinner in Annapolis.
The Claymore has returned to lead the procession of the haggis.
For several years the Digby and Area Board of Trade has hosted a Burns Night supper at the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre in Cornwallis. These celebrations of the life and poetry of Robert Burns are usually held on or near Jan.25, the poet's birthday.
This gala evening celebrates Scottish culture with food, scotch, bagpipes and poetry. While these suppers are most common in Scotland and Northern Ireland, they are held wherever there are Scottish societies, Burns' poetry lovers, or people who hanker for scotch whiskey and haggis.
Aside from toasting Robbie Burns with scotch (the water of life), one signature highlight of the evening is the entrance of the haggis, a traditional Scottish dish made from sheep’s pluck (best not to ask), suet, oatmeal and spices.
Guests stand as the piper leads the procession carrying the haggis into the dining room, where it is presented to the head table and properly addressed with a special poem. In Annapolis, organizers have been relying on Alex Morrison’s Claymore to protect and grace the entrance of the haggis.
Morrison carried this ‘great sword’ while he was a member of the Black Watch and it features a basket hilt to protect the hands. When temporarily relocated to the west coast a few years ago, he took his sword with him and left Burns night organizers in a pinch for a foil.
Fortunately Peter MacLelland was able to pull a fine blade out of his nickel-plated scabbard.
This year Morrison and his Claymore have returned and will once more lead the procession of the haggis.
Held on the anniversary of Burns’ birth in 1759, the tradition of the Burns Night dinner was originally started by some of his close friends a few years after his death. Burns Night is now celebrated across the world each year.
Locally it started in 2007, after the Digby Area Board of Trade sent a trade mission to Scotland, as a reminder of ties to ‘Old Scotland’. Previous notable speakers at the dinner at Cornwallis Park include former premiers Rodney MacDonald and John Buchanan, as well as Ivan Court, then mayor of Saint John, and Kenny MacAskill, justice minister of Scotland.
This year’s dinner is also providing funding support to Digby Ground Search and Rescue.
In Digby, tickets for the Burns Dinner are available at Ellis Motors, Growth Opportunities on Water Street, and The Digby Courier.
Tickets may also be purchased at the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre in Cornwallis Park.