LAC LA BICHE - The second annual Robbie Burns night in Lac La Biche was held at the McGrane Branch 28 Legion last Saturday, bringing together Scottish heritage, music, food and drink. The commemorative night, celebrated worldwide near the time of the famed Scottish poet’s January 25 birthday more than 260 years ago, provides a social and cultural celebration.
Bagpiper and event organizer Molly Fyten is proud of her own Scottish heritage and was pleased to bring back a unique event for the second time to the community. She hopes to continue the annual event for years to come.
“It’s a part of my heritage. I wanted to bring something to Lac La Biche that wasn’t already being celebrated and that is culturally unique. It’s something new, something fun, a reason to eat, drink and listen to some bagpipes” said Fyten.
Burns is known for many traditional Scottish poems and songs. Worldwide, he is likely best know for creating the song “For Auld Lang Syne,” a song traditionally associated with New Year celebrations. Burns was also known for his business and political aspirations and his family and community kindness.
This year’s event in Lac La Biche to celebrate the folklore hero, back after a missed event in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic, drew a COVID compliant group of about 40 people to a night that was filled with speeches, Burns’ stories and experiences, a beef supper with the option of some traditional haggis — and lots of laughs as community members were brought together for a unique night out.
Emceed by local rodeo announcer Garry Gross, the night offered lighthearted toasts and rebuttals that kept the laughs rolling.
Legion President Danny Stevens thanked the group that showed up to support the event alongside opening remarks from Lac La Biche County Mayor Paul Reutov.
Formals and foods
Out of town special guest, Margaret Campbell formally toasted Queen Elizabeth II while her husband Angus, a skilled bagpipe player from Fort McMurray — and Fyten’s instructor — recited ‘Immortal Memory’ commemorating Scottish culture and Burns’ life, success and lasting impact on the world.
Another bagpipe tradition honouring the Scottish heritage was the “piping of the haggis”, where the shrill sound of the instrument accompanied the formal entrance of the special Scottish dish. Fyten performed the bagpipe work while her mom Ruth carried the haggis into the room on a silver plate.
The plate was presented to the head table, where the first cut was made, and a toast was recited with a dram of whisky raised.
Fyten was pleased to see the support for the night and the man behind it.
“He is famous for poems and a lot of songs that we sing to this day that we don’t realize is written by Robbie Burns. The fact that he passed away so long ago and there is an event that’s still celebrated annually of him is phenomenal. It was mind-blowing this year and we can’t wait to bring back Robbie Burns nights annually.”
Fyten is also happy to bring more activity to the local Legion and more fun choices to community members looking for something unique to do. Without the support of community partners and volunteers—who donated their time—she says the event wouldn’t be able to not only support the legion, but bring joy to the community.
“Right now during the pandemic, everybody needs help, but especially smaller venues like the Legion…it’s important to do that whenever we can and it was a great turnout that was supported by so many community sponsors.”