Tag Archives: Burns Supper

The Best Laid Plans – – –

– sometimes go very well indeed

We had our annual Burns Supper on Friday evening, celebrating the life and works of Scotland’s national poet Robert (Rabbie) Burns. Everyone agreed it was one of the best we’d held over the 10 years we’ve been doing it. Well attended, excellent speakers, wonderful food and smoothly flowing throughout.

shuttle pipes

Randy Stanley – our resident piper


Alex Long delivered ‘The Immortal Memory’










Sandy Huguenin proposed the Toast to the Lassies and Chef Kelley Pearson responded.


Wendy and I sang some Burns songs











Chef Kelley excelled with Cock-a-Leekie soup, haggis, tatties n’ neeps and shepherds pie













The ‘piece de resistance’ – Scottish cheesecake on a shortbread base topped with cranachan and a raspberry.














Here’s to next year – y’all come – – –



Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

Burns Supper: Eating the Offal Stuff

bud in harpAs I’m Scottish, many of our bookstore events have a Celtic theme: the St. Patrick’s Day ceilidh dance in March; a celebration of St. Andrew’s Day just before Thanksgiving; welcoming the New Year with a Hogmanay party into the ‘wee sma’ hours.

Don't get the idea that it's all drinking. There are just a lot of toasts... Chris led the Immortal Memory toast.

Don’t get the idea that it’s all drinking. There are just a lot of toasts… Chris led the Immortal Memory toast.

But the highlight of our Scots calendar is the Burns Supper we hold at the end of January. In common with Scots around the world we host a traditional observance of the birthday of National Bard Robert (Rabbie) Burns.

And the highlight of this night is haggis.

Jodi happens to be a vegetarian...

Jodi happens to be a vegetarian…

Ah, haggis! That mixture of oats, blood and bits of sheep that normally get thrown away but Scots keep and consume with enthusiasm. I love haggis–although for some strange reason Wendy isn’t quite as enthusiastic as me. I’ve had many adventures over the years involving haggis, including once escorting (ok, smuggling) an enormous one through customs to a British consulate Burns Supper in Istanbul.

David reciting the Ode to the Haggis. Note knife in left hand.

David reciting the Ode to the Haggis. Note knife.

This event has always been packed out at the bookstore, and is the main reason we put castors under some of our bookshelves, so they can be moved to create extra space. We serve the traditional ‘champit tatties’ (mashed potatoes) and ‘bashed neeps’ (mashed rutabagas) alongside the haggis, not to mention Cranachan (whipped cream with honey and whisky, topped with toasted oats). Last year, a woman licked her Cranachan plate when she discovered the serving bowl was empty.bells with haggis

The haggis is piped in by our friend Randy and is handed ‘round the assembled company—some of whom look rather dubious as it passes from their hands—while the ‘Ode to a Haggis’ is recited. After the food, we have ‘The Immortal Memory’, a few Burns songs and stories from Wendy and me, and the hilarious Toast to and Response from the lassies. (Think Simon Cowell meets Hilary Clinton in a battle of the sexes.)

Jack delivers a Burns song

Jack delivers a Burns song

It’s a fun night, and to me the highlight of our events year. ‘Course, I would think so, being Scottish, but in addition to loving it for itself, I delight in the facial expressions of Americans trying haggis for the first time. And I have wee drams ready for those who look as though they’ve swallowed something offal. Heh heh. Get it? Offal?

For those interested, Wendy and I will do two Burns Suppers this year: at our bookstore Jan. 24th, and the weekend of 25th/26th Jan. at Hyltons Performing Arts Center in Manassas, VA, as part of their Highlands Festival.

toast to lassies


Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA