MARQUETTE, Mich.—To honor Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birthday, the Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University will host a traditional Burns Supper on Wednesday, Jan. 25. The event will also serve as a fundraiser for the center’s new Folk in Schools Initiative, which will bring U.P. folk artists to school districts throughout the region for performances and workshops.
The Burns Supper begins at 6 p.m. in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center. Tickets for the buffet dinner and entertainment are $40. Advance reservations are required by Friday, Jan. 20, and can be made by calling 227-1219.
Appreciation groups established the Burns Supper tradition in the 19th century as a way to celebrate, and even take jibes at, Scotland’s national poet. The affair is both a solemn and jovial event full of poetry, speeches, good humor, music, dance, drink and food.
The menu will feature the required haggis, along with arran potato salad, cock-a-leekie soup, spicy Scottish meatloaf, salmon with tarragon, neeps and tatties, onion bannocks, Scottish trifle and coffee or tea. There will also be a cash bar. Numerous individuals will lend their musical, dancing and speaking talents to create this unique event. All proceeds support the Folk in Schools Initiative.
“The way it will work is that schools will apply to have certain folk artists from throughout the U.P. come to their schools to perform and conduct workshops,” said Dan Truckey, director of the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center. “This would include traditional musicians, storytellers and craftspeople such as quilters, rag rug weavers and carvers. The goal of the project is to get young people interested in the traditional arts and also to learn more about the history and ethnic cultures of the U.P. The fund will pay artist fees, travel and potentially busing costs for students to come to NMU or travel to other schools to take part in the project.”
A Burns Supper not only celebrates the writer and Scottish heritage in general, but also the shared humanity that poetry embraces. Burns’ work has been described as “colloquial to the point of being almost impenetrable by the non-Scot,” but his messages of love and brotherhood are universal.