Valley of Lincoln Celebrates Freemason Poet With Annual Robert Burns Celebration

Though Robert Burns died at the age of 37 - the victim of a rheumatic heart conditon or, some say, his licentious lifestyle, Burns is heralded as Scotland’s most famous son. His life is celebrated each year on his birthday the world over with dinner, Scotch, his poems and music, and haggis, the national dish of Scotland. The Valley of Lincoln celebrated the life and works of the Ploughman Poet on January 27th with a traditional Robert Burns Celebration!

Burns Dinner chairs Hersh (32° KCCH) and Betty Talley and the Knights of St. Andrew welcomed 100 Scottish Rite Masons, their ladies, and guests for a great evening. The dinner began with cocktails in the lounge, and harp music performed by Heidi Beran. Guests mingled in the newly refurbished museum. Lincoln museum items, including the Masonic regalia from SGIGs Joseph Seacrest, Herbert Ronin and Duke Lichty, the Lincoln DeMolay, and the Eastern Star were displayed thanks to the efforts of Nick Furchert, 32°, the Scottish Rite office manager Joni Bennett, and Linda Wood. Additionally, silent auctions were available for bidding, with items including an autographed Star Wars print by Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, autographed photographs from John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, and Leonard Nimoy, an Italian dinner basket, English/Scottish tea and cookie basket, a glass vase from the House of the Temple, Scottish Rite books, several prints, Scottish Rite medallions, a bottle of Glenfiddich Scotch, and more. The auction raised over $1,500 for RiteCare and the Lincoln Scottish Rite Preservation Foundation.

At 6:30, Jerry Pigsley, 32°, Venerable Master for the Lodge of Perfection, welcomed guests as in the grand ballroom. The room was beautifully decorated by Hersh and Betty Talley with tartan runners on each table, with an inkwell and quill, a photo of Scotland, and the Scottish Lion rampant and saltair flags. Banners representing the Scottish Rite bodies and the KSA banner were hung in the front of the ballroom, and the decorative lights were suspended from the ceiling for a beautiful effect.

Father Steve Lahey of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church gave the Selkirk Grace and invocation. The Knights of St. Andrew, led by bagpiper Jimmy Shelbourn, led in the guest of honor - the haggis. Father Lahey read Burns immortal Ode to a Haggis, which ends with the reader dramatically stabbing “Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race” as the sausagey innards spurting out, followed by a toast to the haggis. He was assisted by Aislynn Bloomquist, daughter of David Bloomquist, and Annaleis Talley, daughter of Blair Talley. Father Lahey read Farewell to St. James Lodge and the Master's Apron, by Robert Burns, as dinner was served.

During dinner, Knights of St. Andrew Knight Master Andy Seachord, 32° and Past Knight Master Greg Prososki, 32° called Nick Furchert, 32° to the podium, and presented him with a beautiful patent, recognizing his membership in the Knights of St. Andrew and all the work he has done as a volunteer.

After the wonderful dinner of Castle Mey steak, cauliflower with a cheese and whiskey sauce, and shortbread with strawberries and Drambuie sauce, Blair and Amanda Talley gave the Toast to the Lassies and the Reply. . . to much laughter. Lincoln entertainer Chris Sayre closed the evening with several songs written by or inspired by Robert Poems and traditional Scottish songs. Afterward, guests joined Chris in singing Auld Lang Syne. The Robert Burns Celebration definitely sets a high water mark for great evenings and entertainment. Mark you calendars now for next January’s dinner!