This year, the festival event will be held Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Grand Center, 182 North 500 West. The evening will feature music by the festival’s artist-in-residence, Christopher Layer, along with singer and fiddler Kate MacLeod. The Utah-based MacLeod, who solos with Red Rock Rondo and the Celtic group Shanahy, is best known for her unique fiddling style and original songs, which have been heard on A Prairie Home Companion, Tom May’s River Folk and Judy Collins’ holiday program Peace on Earth. The Moab Community Dance Band will also perform.
The event includes local residents reading a selection of Robert “Rabbie” Burns’ finest poems, including “Address to a Haggis,” Burns’s famous missive decrying the virtues of Scotland’s national sausage.
Burns, who died in 1796 at the age of 37, is a favorite son of Scotland and widely considered the country’s national poet. Burns was a pioneer of the romantic movement and celebrations of his life and work have been held throughout the world since the early 1800s.
Central to the concert is the ceremonial “Salute to the Haggis” which features Moab residents Ron Regehr and Flora Erickson parading the steaming savory Scottish sausage pudding through the audience. After circling the Great Hall, Burns’ ode to haggis is read and the sausage pudding is pierced by a replica of William Wallace’s giant sword, sliced and served to everyone in attendance.
First held at Back of Beyond Books in 2003, the Burns tribute draws hundreds of participants each year, according to festival officials.
Later this week, Layer and Mcleod will spend time with students in Moab area schools and will visit the Canyonlands Care Center. They will also be guests on KZMU community radio on Friday, Feb. 8, from 1 to 3 p.m.