Robbie Burns’ Night in Williams Lake was a sold-out celebration on Saturday.
The event was put on by Williams Lake Legion Branch 139 and included guest performers, dinner, live music and entertaining traditions involving toasts, swords and swirling tartan.
Ron Hume was MC for the event, which began with a Highland welcome from Legion 139 president Joyce Norberg and O Canada sung by Brock Everett. Williams Lake Pipe Band members Jeanne-Ann Bentham, Doug White, Joe Bazan and Tyler Witte escorted the haggis to its place of honour at the front of the hall, where Hume recited the ‘Ode to the Haggis.’
Bel Hume provided the grace before dinner—a meal that featured prime roast beef, gravy, haggis, bashed neeps and Scottish trifle and shortbread. The ‘grace after meat’ was given by Sid Breckenridge and the ‘toast to the queen’ by Al Tranq.
One of the true highlights of the evening was the Highland dancing by the very talented Wee Walker Dancers from 100 Mile House, accompanied skillfully on bagpipes by South Cariboo resident Glen Esdale.
The dancers were Madeline Martin, age 11; Quinn Andrews, age 13; Alexandra Wolfe, age 15 and Lydia Davidson, age 17.
The dancers performed individual as well as group dances, to the delight of the crowd who thanked them with a standing ovation.
The girls said that they have all been dancing since they were five or six years old and added that they thoroughly enjoyed coming to Williams Lake to dance for Robbie Burns Night at the Legion.
The ‘Immortal Memory’ was offered by Eric Sannes, ‘Toast to the Lassies’ by Doug White and the ‘Lassies Reply’ by Vivian MacNeil.
The Williams Lake Pipe Band welcomed Glen Esdale to join them in their performance, which included Highland favourites like Steamboat, Bugle Horn and The Green Hills.
Mark Lees, Cindy Nadeau and LeRae Haynes from Perfect Match sang The Road and The Miles to Dundee, Ye Jacobites and I Wish I Were in Glasgow, accompanying themselves on bass, acoustic guitar and piano.
There were guests at the event from places around the Cariboo, as well as from Kamloops and North Vancouver. The guest at the event from the farthest away, however, was Stuart Bennett from Fife, Scotland. He is in Williams Lake visiting his girlfriend Krysta Thomson, who said that they met at a Ceilidh in his home town when she was their visiting family.
After Legion Zone Commander Vivian MacNeil ‘paid the pipers’ with ceremonial shots of Drambuie, Williams Lake Pipe Band Sergeant Doug White and his grandson Brock Everett sang Star of Robbie Burns, Flower of Scotland and invited the audience to join them in singing Robbie Burns’ Auld Lang Syne.
The dance floor filled as Perfect Match took the stage and played a dance to top off the evening.
Special thanks for the event went out to the Legion Ladies Auxiliary for the dinner, the Williams Lake Pipe Band, the Legion bar staff, the Wee Walker Dancers and the parents, leaders and cadets of the Rocky Mountain Rangers Chilcotin 3064 for their polite, efficient service clearing tables and helping in the kitchen.
“This was the best Robbie Burns celebration I’ve ever attended,” said Legion president Joyce Norberg. “Our pipe band has never sounded better, the dancers were exceptional and I loved all the Scottish tunes.
“We received lots of compliments and are looking forward to next year.”