A Brief History of our Celebration

It all started many years ago when Maria Anthony and Liam Riggs formed the "River Valley Celtic Society" which sponsored Lawrence's first three Burns Night celebrations at Johnny's in north Lawrence. Although this society was short-lived, it had a significant impact in establishing Lawrence as a place where traditional and contemporary Celtic music was thriving.

Mark Jameson then took charge of producing the Burns Night celebration for two years with it being held at Abe & Jake's in downtown Lawrence.

Larry Carter started producing the celebration in 2002 at the old Lawrence Arts Center. It moved to the new Lawrence Arts Center in 2003 where the large foyer allowed for information booths and other events in conjunction with the concert. With this change in venue, Larry founded "Lawrence Scots" in 2005 and changed the name of the celebration to "Lawrence Scottish Fest" to reflect the broader scope of the evening.

Maria Anthony will be producing the celebration again starting in 2012. It will be moving to sometime near Robert Burns birthday (January 25th) and to a place such as the Jackpot Saloon in downtown Lawrence. Perhaps the name will return to Burns Night. It is time for the doctor to regenerate.

Lawrence Scottish Fest combines elements of a Burns Night dinner and a traditional/contemporary Scottish concert. Robert Burns dinners are held toward the end of January (his birthday) throughout the world. These celebrations typically include certain ceremonies that place equal emphasis on food (usually a formal dinner), Burns history (often a short lecture), reading Burns poetry, and musical entertainment. Since our celebrations have always been produced by musicians, we have reduced the emphasis on the food, history and poetry (although we have kept each of these in the program) and have placed more emphasis on the music.

The music during the Festival portion is mostly traditional. During the Concert portion, however, we include contemporary influences such as original Scottish-theme songs by the evenings performers or music by contemporary Scottish artists such as Dougie MacLean, Andy Stewart, or even classical composer Peter Maxwell Davies. Even the traditional Scottish tunes might sound different, perhaps performed on unusual instruments (fiddle & sitar!) or arranged for a Celtic rock band.

"Lawrence Scottish Fest" is an opportunity to celebration your Scots heritage. It is an all-ages community event, made possible by volunteer participation from a number of people.

Larry Carter
Lawrence Old Guard Productions, Master of Ceremonies, Forest Green

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