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Crowds flock for an evening of haggis, bagpipes, dance and poetry

Alysha Trenholm jumps and twirls to the notes bagpiper James MacHattie plays during a highland dance.
Alysha Trenholm jumps and twirls to the notes bagpiper James MacHattie plays during a highland dance. - Desiree Anstey

Burns birthday bash raised spirits in Summerside

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Guests, dressed in tartan and kilts, followed the braiding notes of a solo fiddle player that floated from the main hall of the Credit Union Place on Saturday evening.

The 7th Annual Robbie Burns Fundraising Gala is an evening of dinner and entertainment dedicated to the memory of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. It runs in conjunction with his birthday, while also honouring Scottish culture itself.

Trevor Profitt kicks off the evening entertainment with his fiddle and piano playing.
Trevor Profitt kicks off the evening entertainment with his fiddle and piano playing.

Sue McGiveron, special events coordinator, said Robert Burns was a “people’s poet.”

“He was born to a very poor farming family in Scotland, but he was well-educated and prolific with his writing. He was also quite a carouser. He loved wine, woman and song, and this (combined with his writing) made him famous all over Scotland,” she said.

Highlights of the night were the nasal drones of a bagpipe that filled the air to accompany the ceremonial welcome of the haggis, a savoury type of pudding, which was brought to a central table at the start of the proceedings.

Andrew Campbell made the Address to the Haggis with a theatrical cutting of the dish, before raising a glass to showcase the Scottish spirit.

Guests were served a three course roast beef dinner, with haggis.

Daniel Carrr, highland dance instructor and World Highland Dance Champion in 2010, said the event is a great reflection of the Scottish culture.

Andrew Campbell made the Address to the Haggis with a theatrical cutting of the dish, before raising a glass to showcase the Scottish spirit.
Andrew Campbell made the Address to the Haggis with a theatrical cutting of the dish, before raising a glass to showcase the Scottish spirit.

“When I was in Scotland I noticed the authentic music. You can walk into a pub, sit down and eat, and get swept away with a fiddle player that just lights up the room,” he said.

“We will have entertainment from Scottish and Celtic step-dancers, piping and drumming, so it will be a good night of entertainment for the die-hard Scottish folks in this area.”

Carr hopes to spark a fire in future dancers on P.E.I.

“We’re growing (the College of Piping) and look forward to getting more kids involved in this great form of dance,” he said, adding, “More than 50 youth have already signed up for a weekend of specialist dance training on Saturday, March 10-11. And one instructor is coming from Scotland.”

Bagpiper Dean MacDonald said he got hooked on the instrument after taking it up in his mid-forties to help teach and motivate his sons.

“When we moved to Summerside our boys enrolled in the College of Piping scholarship program for free, and they took piping and drumming. I took it up (bagpiping) to help with them. But I stayed with it and they dropped out,” he shared, adding, “It’s a difficult instrument to learn.”

Bagpipers James MacHattie, from the far left, Conall Gibson, and Carl Brydon entertain guests during the Robbie Burns fundraising gala.
Bagpipers James MacHattie, from the far left, Conall Gibson, and Carl Brydon entertain guests during the Robbie Burns fundraising gala.

MacDonald and his wife, Anna, created the year-end video that was pictured during the event.

Funds raised from the event will go towards the operational expenses of the school, and directly support the operational mission statement of "Empowering students to realize their full potential through Celtic Performing Arts." 

A Grade 4 category band, which won first place at the 2017 World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland, wrapped up the evening entertainment.

“Winning the championships is something we’re very proud of and, we’re excited to celebrate that tonight,” concluded McGiveron.

For more information, visit www.collegeofpiping.com.

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