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Scottish culture to be celebrated at Burns dinner

The Airdrie Gaelic Society’s fifth annual Robbie Burns dinner promises to be an entertaining celebration of Scottish culture, according to the society’s treasurer Kevin Fraser.
Great Scots!
Dancers from the MacRae School of Highland Dance entertained guests at the 2018 Airdrie Scots Pipes and Drums Fourth Annual Robbie Burns dinner. This year’s event takes place Jan. 20.

The Airdrie Gaelic Society’s fifth annual Robbie Burns dinner promises to be an entertaining celebration of Scottish culture, according to the society’s treasurer Kevin Fraser. “It’s an excellent night out, it’s excellent entertainment by amateur performers,” Fraser said. “We have a large selection of performers, so there’s a little bit for everyone." The event will incorporate many traditional elements of a Burns supper – the annual celebration of the life of Scottish poet Robert Burns. Fraser said the evening will feature a haggis meal, poetry readings and toasts, as well as performances by the Airdrie Scots Pipes and Drums band and traditional dances by McRae Highland Dance Studio, Airdrie Scottish Dancers and Calgary’s Dance Through Life. The Airdrie Gaelic Society is the fundraising arm of the Airdrie Scots Pipes and Drums band, Fraser said, and the annual Robbie Burns event is the band’s main fundraiser of the year. Proceeds from the event will be used primarily to support operating costs for the group. “The reeds that the pipers use, the drum heads that the drummers play on, the snares – those all wear out over time, so we need to replace those to keep on performing,” Fraser said. Other expenses covered by the fundraiser include administrative costs to keep the band’s website running and to pay for insurance. According to Fraser, the Airdrie Scots Pipes and Drums band was formed for the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Airdrie Summer Games. Since then, the band has continued to perform throughout Alberta, including at events in Canmore, Didsbury, Carstairs and Irricana. “We’re a parade and performance band,” Fraser said. “During the summer months, we have typically five or six parades that we perform in.” The winter months, Fraser said, are spent preparing for the annual fundraiser, which he said holds a special place in his heart due to his own Scottish heritage. “I think everybody likes to feel connected to their roots,” Fraser said. “My great, great grandparents came to Canada from Scotland. My sisters highland danced, I played the pipes…my nieces highland dance.” Airdrie also holds a historical connection to Scotland, Fraser added – the city shares a name with a Scottish town. Airdrie is one of several communities in Alberta whose name pays homage to Scotland – Calgary, Canmore and Banff, likewise, are notably named after Scottish people or places. Fraser said he’s proud of his roots, and the event gives him an opportunity to share his heritage with the community. According to Fraser, Airdronians can take part in the celebration of Scottish heritage whether or not they share those roots. “As long as they love roast beef and don’t mind the bagpipes, we’re a fun evening,” he said. Tickets for the event – which will take place at the Ron Ebbesen Arena’s Overtime Lounge Jan. 20 – are available at Tickets cost $55 per person, but Fraser said groups of five or more will receive a 10 per cent discount. “The lounge is fully licensed, so it is a family-friendly event. Young kids are permitted,” Fraser said. Doors for the event will open at 3:30 p.m., with performances starting at 4 p.m. Fraser said the event typically ends between 8 and 9 p.m. but this year’s festivities could run a bit later because of added performance groups.

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