First started by close friends of Scottish poet Robert Burns a few years after his death in 1796 as a tribute, the annual evening of culture and fare will continue to live on among local traditionalists when it takes place Saturday, Feb. 1 at La Place Rendez-Vous.
“Everybody’s welcome—even if you’re not Scottish,” joked Marie Anderson, who’s organizing this year’s event.
Anderson, who’s husband, Lyn, plays in the Fort Frances Highlanders, decided to take the reins this year after attending the dinner for her first time last year.
“It was a lot of fun,” she noted. “Everyone gets dressed up in their family tartans. It was bigger last year than the year before, and we hope it gets bigger this year.”
While Anderson admitted ticket sales have been a little slow so far, she’s hoping they’ll pick up as soon as possible so she can know roughly how many meals the kitchen staff will have to prepare.
“We want people to know that this year the dinner’s a fundraiser,” said Anderson.
“The band [Highlanders] is sponsoring a music school in July,” she noted. “While it’s normally held in Kenora or Dryden or Thunder Bay, the band put a bid in because it’s the [town’s] centennial year.
“This summer, we’ll have over 100 pipers and drummers coming into town, and we’re looking for a way to offset the costs,” she added, noting the dinner and the cause go well together as the music school will promote the Celtic culture.
Tickets for Robbie Burns Night cost $35 each, but tables of eight or 10 can be reserved in advance, noted Anderson.
Tickets are available at Drs. Lidkea, Elliott & Lidkea, Lakeland Personnel Inc., Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, International Falls Chamber of Commerce, or by calling Anderson (274-5826).
For those who haven’t been to a Robbie Burns dinner before, expect a traditional menu of roast beef, Scotch broth, haggis, and neeps (turnips), along with a series of rituals like the “Toast to the Queen,” and the “Address to the Haggis.”
And what would a Burns celebration be without some lively song and dance.
“The Fort Frances Highlanders will be playing,” confirmed pipe major Dr. Bruce Lidkea. “And we’ve got a couple special treats this year. Some members of groups from Ely, Bemidji, and Winnipeg will be joining us.”
The Highlanders also will be hosting the dinner, and partake in the traditions associated with Robbie Burns.
Anderson noted the festivities also will include performances by Fort Dance Studio as well as individuals singing and playing the Celtic harp and violin. And those who attend the dinner can expect a silent auction and raffles for gift baskets filled with appropriately Scottish goodies.
This year’s corporate sponsor once again is Lakeland Personnel.
“I’ve been to quite a few, and it’s something we look forward to sponsoring every year,” said Todd Hamilton, president and general manager of Lakeland Personnel.
“It’s a great event and a bit of a tradition here. And a few years ago, we changed the format to open it up a little more and make it more family-oriented with more emphasis on entertainment,” he added.
“We look forward to continuing our support of it.”
Cocktails hour starts at 6 p.m., with dinner underway at 7. Courtesy transportation home will be available from 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.