Friday, February 3, 2012

The Burns Supper

Ketchikan does not have a lot of things. You will hear me rant in future blogs about the disadvantages of living here. We don't have professional sports teams, big music concerts, or fancy restaurants. What we do have though, is the Misty Thistle Pipes and Drums. We have our very own bagpipe band! Believe it or not, we actually have two bagpipe bands! The firefighters recently started their own band of pipers.  I am partial to the Misty Thistle though, because my daughter is one of their dancers. Misty Thistle web site

Bill Urquhart Pipe Major followed by Rob Alley

Every year the Misty Thistle celebrates the life of Scottish poet Robert Burns at The Burns Supper.  The event is a traditional one, resplendent with Scottish tartans, dancing, dialect, and yes, the smell of Haggis. 


Robert Burns was an 18th century poet that has written hundreds of poems and songs. Works attributed to Burns include "Auld Lang Syne" and "A Red Red Rose." He perpetuated Scottish folk lore and enjoyed writing with a Scottish dialect.

Last Saturday, we braved a whipping wind storm to go celebrate the life of Robert Burns at the North Tongass Community Club.  Kilts flapping, and cheeks rosy, we were greeted with warmth, laughter and the tenor of bagpipes.

 A whirl of color
Here in Ketchikan we celebrated Robbie's Birthday with a BYOS (Bring your own Scotch) dinner. There were just two rules; First, upon concluding a toast, empty your glass.  Second, every one's a Scotsman. So, in honor of the great Scott, we recited poems and gave toasts in the best Scottish accent we could muster.  As the evening progressed, the dialects improved, and the toasts became more frequent.

The Misty Thistle Pipes and Drums accompanied four young dancers as they kicked up their heals to an energetic highland fling and a real sword dance. We were entertained by the sheer endurance of it. When the beat hastened so did the dancers feet. When they were finished, the audience was invited to dance. There was a whirl of color as people twirled, out on to the dance floor. Those that didn't dance stomped their feet to the beat of the drums. Hearts thumped and brows were wiped as we prepared to tucked in to dinner. But first...

The haggis was paraded around the room, to the raucous din of clapping, hooting, and the blowing of bagpipes. After everyone had a chance to smell the haggis, an ode to the haggis was read by Rob Alley. The ballad was thick with dialect, and written by, none other than, Burns himself.

bringing in the haggis
 Address to a Haggis

Finally, we feasted on Turkey, turnips and potatoes, salad, slaw, and yes the mighty haggis.  It was a loud and delicious event.

So no, We do not have a sports arena, concert hall, or elegant dinning establishments in Ketchikan. Here we have highland dancing, the Misty Thistle Pipes and Drums, and the North Tongass Community Club.  Here we brave the snow and cold in the dark of winter, to gather together in dance and song. Here we watch the sport of highland dancing, whilst we listen to a live concert of bagpipes and drums, and feast upon the savory haggis.   Here in Ketchikan we celebrate life and enjoy the feast of The Burns Supper.  To Ketchikan!

(Don't forget to drain your glass!) 

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