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Bagpipes, haggis part of toast to Robert Burns in Condon

Poetry of Scotland’s Robert Burns and the local Scottish heritage will be celebrated Saturday, Jan. 25, at the 17th annual Robert Burns Supper at Condon.

The event will take place at the Condon Elks Lodge on Condon’s Historic Main Street, beginning at 2 p.m.

Pipers, drummers, dancers and vocalists will come from Pendleton, Arlington, Redmond, Bend, Portland, and Carson and Stevenson, Wash., to help the Condon community celebrate its Scottish heritage on the 255th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s beloved bard Robert Burns. The celebration is in its 17th year as an organized event, and has become a favorite wintertime diversion at Condon.

The event features lively music from the “Old Country,” a traditional Scottish meal of haggis, neeps and tatties, and a favorite, Scotch eggs, a shortbread contest and anecdotes from the annuls of Scottish families who settled in the Greater Gilliam County area in the mid-to late 1800s and early 1900s. Area families of Scottish heritage are encouraged to search through their family lore for diaries, notes, photographs and other memorabilia, and to share the information at the gathering.

Where ancestors came from in the Old Country, what they did there, why they came to America, why they came to Gilliam County and the surrounding area, how they got here, what they brought with them, what they did after arriving here, where they lived, and especially, note any particular remembrances or special anecdotes or family traditions that came with the immigrants and which perhaps survive today.

Some of the early-day Scottish settlers in the area included such names as Dunbar, Rattray, Duthie, Hardie, Stewart, Campbell, McFarlane, Geddes, Kyd, Patterson, Froman, Dysart, Spalding, Jamieson, Marshall — and there were many more who came to America after Scotland’s economy had collapsed.

This year’s celebration will feature the Rattray family, which has its Gilliam County roots in the Mayville area. Family members will tell of their Rattray heritage, which has its origins near Rattray/Blairgowrie, Scotland.

In the early days of settlement in Gilliam County, an organization known as the Caledonian Society was formed by those who arrived early, to help fellow Scots still arriving find work and housing. In later years, in the 1950s and early 1960s, celebrations to honor the early Scottish settlers were held at Condon, John Day, Dayville and other areas where Scots settled. As the Scottish pioneers passed away, the celebrations honoring them seemed to fade away as well.

The celebration is held each year on, or near, the birth date of the famed Scottish poet, the Immortal Robert Burns, Scotland’s endearing Poet Laureate who was born on Jan. 25, 1759.

The afternoon and evening are spent with lively readings and recitations of Robert Burns and other poetry, music of the country, the pipes and drums, snippets of letters and family histories. Traditional dance instruction has also been a part of the celebration for those who want to keep active. Also included is a shortbread contest which offers a host of unique prizes, and an ample supply of shortbread.

The public is invited to the event. Tickets are on sale at the Times-Journal in Condon, 541-384-2421, and will be available at the door. Tickets are $17 per person, or $30 for a couple for all-day and evening events. The Condon Elks Lodge is now equipped with an ADA-approved chair lift to the Lodge floor and an ADA-approved restroom facility on the Lodge floor level.

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