BY ANDREW SMITH
LISTOWEL – A Listowel tradition continued on Saturday night, as the 37th annual Robbie Burns Dinner and Dance brought some Scottish revelry to town.
Lads and lassies packed into Parkview Gardens on Saturday, Feb. 2, in honour of 18th century Scottish poet Robbie Burns. Planning committee member David Glass said he was glad to see good attendance for the long-running event.
“I think we have as good a turnout as last year,” Glass said. “We’re quite pleased with the turnout tonight.”
Glass commented that the Robbie Burns event is a piece of Listowel’s history, and benefits the community in return by supporting the Listowel Air Cadets and Listowel Memorial Hospital.
“It’s one of the longest running events in the Listowel community,” Glass said. “The whole idea with Robbie Burns is that the money goes to the community, as best seen by the Legion.”
Fellow committee member Dean Feener said the event attracts a regular crowd who come out to enjoy the roast beef dinner, served with “tatties, green peas and nurly neeps, and a wee taste o’ haggis”.
“For sure, we have our regulars and they all love it, they’ve been doing it for 37 years,” he said.
Feener hopes to attract a new generation to the Robbie Burns event, promising a good time if they would see what the dinner and dance offers.
“We’ve been trying for the last few years to get some of the younger crowd to come out, just to experience it,” Feener said. “We know they would enjoy it if they were to come out.”
One of the Robbie Burns regulars is master of ceremonies and Fare Enuff band member Brian Pirie, who has been coming to the event for 25 years. For Pirie, the event is all about the relationships formed with the people, particularly founding member Neil Forman.
“It’s just the people, it really is,” Pirie said. “We’ve grown a special relationship with Neil Forman, he was here at the beginning when we came and he’s just been a gentleman.”
Pirie said Fare Enuff is “almost as old as the Rolling Stones, but not as successful” and play at a number of Robbie Burns events across Ontario. Pirie said it’s amazing to think that poet Robbie Burns has been adopted as a national hero and the event maintains the history of Scotland.
“When you think about the Scots, they historically have this heathen, warrior-like mentality,” Pirie said. “If you do all these heroic acts on the battlefield, you need someone to tell the story of that, or else they’re for naught.”