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PUBLISHED: 11:12 AM on Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Scots to celebrate heritage at Saturday event

Photo by David J. Sheakley
  Ken Eller, bagpiper from Ontario, Canada, performed with the Stroller White Pipes and Drums at the last Robbie Burns Night in Juneau. Eller will be in Juneau to perform on Jan. 28 at Centennial Hall.
A night of Celtic heritage will be celebrated at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at Centennial Hall in Juneau for Robbie Burns Night. Performers include Stroller White Pipes and Drums, Stroller White Highland Dancers, bagpiper Ken Eller and Celtic rock band Fire on McGinnis. Also featured will be a full British Isles meal, Scottish short bread, whisky tasting and a silent auction. Tickets are available at Hearthside Books.

"The Stroller White Pipes and Drums was formed around 1975 by two local bagpiping enthusiasts, Rob McMahon and Ladd Macaulay, and named after Mt. Stroller-White, which borders the Mendenhall Glacier," pipe sergeant Doug Gardner said. "Since its inception, the band has grown in strength, numbers, and expectations."

Robert Burns is the immortal bard of Scotland. Born in 1759 as the eldest of seven, he worked on his fathers' farm with his family. In spite of being poor Burns was extremely well read due to his fathers' insistence to have a tutor teach him and his younger brother. In Burns' teenage years he started to write poetry about his hardship as a kid. Growing older and still writing poetry his subject matter moved to love and his own personal relationships. His first published set of poetry gained immediate success and in a matter of weeks he was transformed from local hero to a national celebrity. His poetry helped fuel the songs of musicians across the country. In all, more than 400 of Burns' songs are still in existence. One of which the whole country sings at least once a year on the strike of the New Year's, "Auld Lang Syne."

On the anniversary of his birth, Scots both at home and abroad celebrate Robert Burns with a supper, where they address his poetry, the haggis, the ladies and whisky; a celebration which would undoubtedly make him proud.

Rai Behnert is the chef of the Scottish food known as haggis for Burns Night in Juneau. Haggis is a mixture of lamb, sheep giblets, oats and spices traditionally cooked in a stomach of the sheep.

"You can't have a Burns Night Celebration without haggis and poetry," Behnert said.

"I have been making the traditional haggis, with a few of my secret ingredients, for Burns Night for as long as I can remember. Traditionally haggis was kind of a poor mans meal using the end pieces of meat from the butcher shop. The years that I've been making haggis I spared no expense to the meat that goes into it. I'd like to think that it's a wee bit healthier and tastier than the haggis of Robbie Burns' days but still made with the same traditions and style of yester-years."

The Stroller White Pipes and Drums and Highland Dancers perform throughout the year at various community events such as the 4th of July parades in Juneau and Douglas, the JDHS Crimson Bears football games and the adult education graduation ceremony.

"We are not going to hold back on this one. It's going to be a celebration to remember." Behnert said. "People really get into it when they perform. It's really something different to hear."

For more information, contact Doug or Laurie Gardner at 586-8961, Mike Barnhill at 790-4943 or David Sheakley at 796-2000.


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