Ashley Green, who has Scottish heritage in her family background, takes in the entertainment to celebrate Robbie Burns Day festivities at the Calgary Drop-In Centre in Calgary, Alta on Sunday January 19, 2014. Jim Wells/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency.

Calgary Sun, Monday, January 20, 2014

By Jenna McMurray

Ashley Green, who has Scottish heritage in her family background, takes in the entertainment to celebrate Robbie Burns Day festivities at the Calgary Drop In Centre in Calgary, Alta on Sunday January 19, 2014. Jim Wells/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency

She wasn’t entirely sold on one of the traditional dishes of her ancestors, but Ashley Green was thrilled to learn a little bit about her heritage Sunday.

Green, who has Scottish roots, was one of about 1,000 people served up haggis at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre as part of the Festival of Burns, honouring Scottish poet Robbie Burns.

“I got bribed with salt and vinegar chips to eat all my haggis,” laughed Drop-In Centre client Green of the Scottish dish comprised of sheep organs.

“I’m not really one for liver, I had to wash it down with some juice.”

Guests were also served roast beef, potatoes and carrots with gravy and enjoyed festive entertainment including dancers, pipers and singers.

“It’s my first time experiencing this event and I’m learning about my culture and my heritage,” said Green.

“The music is great — there’s bagpipes, accordion, piano.”

It was the 12th annual celebration of its kind at the Drop-In Centre, courtesy of the St. Andrew-Caledonian Society of Calgary, which provided food and about 60 volunteers to prepare, serve and cleanup the meal and entertain the crowd.

Robert Henderson, the society’s president, said Robbie Burns was a “common man” who encouraged people to appreciate others for who they are, regardless of their situations.

One of the group’s members came up with the idea to extend that ideal by hosting a Robbie Burns lunch for Calgary’s less fortunate, he said.

“If (Burns) was alive today, you’d probably find him here,” said Henderson from the Drop-In Centre Sunday afternoon.

He said nearly 55 kg of haggis was ordered for the event.

“There are a few people who are fussy about the haggis, but most people will take it,” he said, adding Drop-In Centre clients start asking about the event in October.

“They look forward to it.”

Drop-In Centre spokesman Jordan Hamilton said the meal is considered the largest Robbie Burns’ dinner in Canada.

jenna.mcmurray@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SunJMac

Read more: http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/01/19/scottish-society-serves-up-robbie-burns-banquet-for-clients-of-the-calgary-drop-in-centre