Here comes the Haggis
Posted: January 28, 2013
The Winchester Star
Poetry and the sounds of bagpipes filled the Millwood Station Special Events Center Saturday night as more than 160 people gathered to celebrate Scottish culture.
The ninth annual Burns Night Dinner — which benefits the City of Winchester Pipes and Drums music ensemble — included Scottish traditions such as bagpipe performances and the piping in of the Haggis.
Burns Night events are held around the world on or about Jan. 25 to commemorate the birthday of famed Scottish poet Robert Burns.
“It’s just a unique evening,” said Fran Jeffries, a Winchester resident and one of the event’s organizers.
She added that “fundraising is important, or we don’t have a City of Winchester Pipes and Drums.”
Outfitting each musician can cost $1,000 to $2,000. The Burns Night Dinner typically raises between $3,000 and $4,000.
John Taylor, pipe major for the City of Winchester Pipes and Drums, said the kilts that ensemble members wear can cost more than $800. The group had 14 bagpipers and six drummers in attendance Saturday.
“The band needs funds for uniforms,” Taylor said. “Right now, we’ve got three pipers in training, and in a very short time we’ll need to outfit them. This is one of our major fundraisers to help us get money to do that so the cost for an individual member is kept to a minimum.”
Howard Parsons came to the Burns Night Dinner from his home in Charlottesville because he had heard about the event from his brother.
“I haven’t been to [a Burns Night] in a while, and my brother comes up most years, so we came together,” Parsons said, adding that he enjoys the poetry, Haggis and traditions associated with Burns Night.
“Plus, it’s a nice way to pass a winter evening,” he said.
Winchester resident Donald Crawford, who wore a kilt featuring his family’s tartan pattern, said his family and friends have held Burns Night events at their homes for years.
“It’s just a traditional, ethnic kind of celebration,” Crawford said. “Other ethnic groups have their celebrations, the Scots have Burns Night.”
As for the Haggis — a traditional Scottish food that contains a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs — Crawford joked that the dish is a “ghost” of what it used to be like.
“It’s like a pate now,” he said. “In the old days it was big, steaming chunks of sweet meats in an oatmeal broth. It was nasty stuff.”
— Contact Matt Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org