Scottish Fest welcomes ‘auld’ acquaintances

Tom Averill, right, of the Topeka band Pipers of the Plains, performs a solo on the bagpipes. Fellow band member Dana Morris is at left. The two performed Sunday night during the 11th annual Lawrence Scottish Fest at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.

Scottish music, Scottish food and Scottish kilts took over Sunday at the Lawrence Arts Center for the 11th annual Lawrence Scottish Fest.

The first part of the night was a sort of reception, with impromptu bagpipe performances, tables full of traditional Scottish food, booths featuring information about Scottish heritage and culture, and an opportunity to buy various Scottish-inspired merchandise.

The yearly event honors – but doesn’t imitate – Scottish heritage and customs, said Larry Carter, who has produced the festival for the last five years.

Carter and his band, Forest Green, were one of several acts that highlighted the second part of the event – a concert.

Other portions of the concert included the music of Maria Anthony and her band, Uncle Dirtytoes, as well as a performance of “Auld Lang Syne” by the crowd.

Anthony was responsible in the mid-1990s for establishing the Scottish Fest, which celebrates the life and work of Robert Burns, quite possibly the most famous of all Scottish poets.

“It’s so much fun,” Carter said. “It’s important to honor our heritage.”

Also entertaining Sunday night were the Pipers of the Plains, a group of men who get together and play bagpipes.

“We’re going to make some noise,” joked Dana Morris, a Pipers of the Plains member who started playing the bagpipes after he retired and was looking for something to do.

All the Pipers, who dressed in full Scottish regalia from the kilts to the caps, broke into bagpipe music as the crowd enjoyed steaming bowls of Auld Reekie soup and boxes full of Scottish pastries – a warmup to the rest of the concert.

Lawrence Scots

Kilts were the popular attire Sunday night, and they came in all varieties: red ones and green ones, plaid ones and, well, other kinds of plaid ones. Anyone who wore one was eligible for free admission to the concert portion of the event.

Glenn Jackson, of Eudora, came to his second Scottish Fest sporting a green kilt, which he acknowledged was a bit drafty.

“I love the music, the whole tradition of Robert Burns and all of the rest of the ceremonial things,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to hearing all of the music.”