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Men in Kilts: The Canaseraga “Burns Dinner”


The town of Burns NY was named for Scottish poet Robert Burns

“Burns Dinners” are held all over the world to honor the “Auld Lang Syne” poet

By Kathryn Ross

CANASERAGA – It was all kilts, bagpipes, pennywhistles, drums, poetry, and song when a little more than 40 people came together Saturday night for the annual Robbie Burns Dinner in Canaseraga.

A Burns dinner celebrates the birthday, life and works of 18th century romantic poet Robert Burns known as the national poet of Scotland for having written and published poems in the Scottish language and for preserving the native songs of Scotland. Through his efforts the popular song, “Auld Lang Syne” was preserved for posterity and today is known as the third most sung, song in the world. A lothario of high esteem, (Burns fathered between 14 and 16 children with several different women.)  He was also known for his political and civil activism. He grew up on a farm and spent much of his life farming and writing poetry based on the life of the common man.

Blake Mayo addresses the Haggis as Lauren Oliver gets ready to toast

Burns Dinners are held annually around the world wherever those of Scottish heritage congregate. Contrary to what one would believe, according to one of the commentators, Canaseraga, with its name derived from the Seneca Indians, was in the early 1800s one of those places in Allegany County in the Town of Burns.

This was the eighth Burns Dinner set  Canaseraga, but the first in four years. The dinner was held at the Fawcett Legion Post 1582 and hosted by the Marjorie Dieter Mastin Historical Society as a fundraiser.

Pat Kane leads Canaseraga Burns Dinner revelers In singing “Old Lang Syne”

According to Lauren Oliver who conducted most of the activities at the dinner, the Town of Burns was settled by Scots who named their town after Robert Burns.

The dinner followed the traditional format with toasts, poetry, the Immortal Memory Toast to Burns and of course the parade and the piping in of the haggis. Haggis is a traditional Scottish delicacy originally made from a sheep’s or calf’s offal mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning boiled in a sheep’s stomach. Today haggis is made a variety of ways using ground chicken or lamb, oatmeal and spices.

The event got started with traditional Scottish songs and dance provided by Pat Kane and Kathy Snedeker with bagpipe solos by Beth Goldsmith. Oliver and Blake Mayo paraded the haggis. Mayo Addressed the Haggis and Oliver gave the Immortal Burn’s Toast, Several scotch toasts later the party ended with an auction of items to benefit the 2024 Burns Dinner.

This was the only Burns Dinner held in the county this year.

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