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Rochester Robbie Burns night fed the body and soul

Inaugural event showed off local Highland dancers
ROCHESTER – Helen Goertz felt the call of her ancestors and decided to bring a wee bit ‘o Scotland to Rochester Feb. 8 by organizing the first Robbie Burns night at the Community Hall. 

The 166 people who attended were treated to some fine whisky, neeps and tatties and roast beef as well as the traditional Haggis. Dressed in their best Tartans the fans of Roberts Burns were entertained with jokes, stories and poems while sitting at tables with familiar Alberta names that are Scottish; Barrhead, Banff, Colinton, Strathmore and more. 

“Some hae meat and canna eat, 
And some wad eat that want it, 
But we hae meat and we can eat, 
And sae the Lord be thankit.” 

― Robert Burns 1759 – 1796 

Tim Goertz did the address to the Haggis and Jim Osbourne celebrated Burns’ enduring spirit, both mainstays of a traditional Burns Night. 

“I’m very happy (with how it turned out) for an inaugural event,” Helen said. “It was good we could include the Rochester dancers because they’re local.” 

Between sips of whisky and the speeches people were encouraged to browse the pop-up shop of The Scottish Shoppe from Calgary that had different tartans, and everything from items made from tartans to Outlander memoribila and Scottish-theme jewellry.

Locals Larry and Bonnie Spears were chosen to give the toast to the Lassies and the Lassies’ reply in recognition of both Bonnie’s ancestry and their 50-year-long marriage. Staples of the Rochester community Larry regaled the audience with jokes before hoisting a dram to the ladies. 

Athabasca County councillor and president of the Rochester Ag Society Dwayne Rawson gave a few comments and was pleased with how the night turned out. 

“Tim and Helen, obviously they are community minded and put a lot of work into this,” Rawson said. “This brings a community together.” 

Co-presented by the Heartwood Folk Club and the Rochester Ag Society, the highlight of the evening was some high stepping with the Rochester Highland Dance group. 

“My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here; 
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer; 
A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe, 
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.” 

― Robert Burns 

Celtic Fusion Illusion took the stage and showcased popular songs, like Garth Brooks ‘Ireland,’ with a Celtic flair while students from Edmonton’s Kathryn Campbell School of Highland Dance performed before opening the floor to anyone who wanted to dance. The ability to Highland Fling was optional. 

Heather Stocking,
Follow me on Twitter @HLSox

Heather Stocking

About the Author: Heather Stocking

Heather Stocking a reporter at the Athabasca Advocate, a weekly paper in Northern Alberta. Heather covers all aspects of the news in and around Athabasca and Boyle as well as other small communities.
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