Scots around the world paid tribute to the birthday of the poet Robert Burns through dinners and toasts in what is widely known as the Burns Supper. Vineyard Scots and their friends had their own event Saturday night at the Oyster Bar and Grill on Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs.
The evening of toasts, music and levity honored the significance of both the 249th birthday of the bard and the 21st anniversary of the Scottish Society of Martha’s Vineyard.
Michael Gillespie, owner of the Oak Bluffs restaurant, was dressed in chef whites. He marched around the packed restaurant at the opening of the festivities carrying a decorated tray with the ceremonial haggis. He was preceded by bagpipe player Jim Joyce of Edgartown.
With formal pomp, the two marched with dignity and importance, like two bankers delivering bars of gold bouillon from Fort Knox. The two were followed by a half-dozen kilt-dressed leaders of the society, dressed in full Scottish regalia.
Haggis is as much a part of the tradition of any Burns supper as the reading of the bard’s poetry. Haggis, though hardly of economic value, is made from sheep parts that no one likes to talk about. The dish is made palatable with seasoning.
Alan Reekie of West Tisbury read the familiar Burns tribute: Ode Tae A Haggis.
Once the toast was made and the contents of little glasses consumed, the party began.
Between servings, the evening was enlivened by a raffle conducted by society treasurer Robert Wheeler. Money raised in the raffle replenished the society’s regional high school senior scholarship fund.
Margaret Steele of Edgartown read the Toast to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. There were others, including toasts to the President, a toast to the lassies and a toast to the laddies.
Phil Dietterich of Oak Bluffs took a moment to act as conductor of a group of vocalists calling themselves The Internationally Acclaimed Scottish Society Singers.
The evening included a proper send-off to the society’s much-regaled leader, Steve Ewing of Edgartown. He steps down to have a little more fun. The evening included Mr. Ewing’s highly regarded poem: The Immortal Memory and Toast to Robert Burns.
Supper participants also welcomed Mr. Ewing’s replacement, Madeline Fisher.
“Steve has done an outstanding job at running the society and we are deeply appreciative of his commitment,” Chris Scott said later.