The Transcona and District Pipe Band is looking to boost its numbers with a big dinner.
The band is set to host a Robbie Burns Dinner on Feb. 1 at All Saints Hall (1500 Day St.), and the public is welcome to attend. Pipe band president Dave Stewart, whose son, Ryan, is pipe major, said with the band dwindling to 13 members this year, it’s been more difficult to sell tickets to fundraising events like the dinner. Doors open at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7 p.m.
In addition to drumming up financial support, Stewart hopes to draw in a few more interested participants through the dinner to swell the ranks into a healthy range of 20 to 25 members in advance of the band’s 50th anniversary in 2015. Students in this year’s competing band range in age from 12 to 18, Stewart said.
Stewart explained it’ll be a traditional meal, with haggis being front and centre alongside potatoes, neeps (yellow turnips), and ham for those who opt against haggis.
"A typical Burns dinner is the food of the time," Stewart said. "The haggis is piped out, which is traditional. There are a couple of pipers, the haggis is carried, and someone carries a knife they’re going to cut the haggis open with. There’s a formal address to the haggis, which has been done many, many years, and it’s usually done in Gaelic.
"After the address to the haggis, there’s grace, and then there’ll be the dinner."
Stewart added the ceremony will be rounded out by a toast to the immortal memory of Burns, a Scottish poet who lived from 1759 to 1796. There will be a kitchen party following the dinner including a performance by the band, a Scottish dancer, and other music.
Stewart noted proceeds from the dinner will help the band offset costs such as uniforms and other equipment.
The band practises at Harold Hatcher Elementary School at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday nights.
Stewart’s four children were all members of the pipe band growing up, and he feels their involvement has helped them grow into quality adults.
"Our kids have learned self-discipline, group discipline, maturity, and all those qualities you expect out of someone who’s growing up," Stewart said. "(They’re) accepting the guidance of the person that’s judging them."
Tickets to the dinner are $20 and can be purchased by contacting Stewart at email@example.com or 204-795-2648.