10 more days until Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Dinner.
Yesterday and today, I received calls from Matt Burrows from the Georgia Straight asking what was happening for the 10th Anniversary celebrations for Gung Haggis Fat Choy. We have celtic band Blackthorn, Vancouver poet laureate George McWhirter, our house band Joe McDonald and Brave Waves + an sneak peak excerpt from Grace Chin's new theatre play.
“Sorry, I can't tell you anything more because everything else is going to be a surprise,” I told Burrows. “I am looking at some of the best memories, performances and elements over the past 10 years and trying to find a way to make the dinner have the same remarkable spontaneity that the first dinner of 16 guests had, but now with 400 guests.
As usual we will be having people reading Burns Poetry, reading Asian Canadian poetry… and we will have members of our audience come up on stage to read. It's always important for me to find a way to recognize both the
Scottish-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian history and culture of our city
It's always exciting seeing who will be in our audience. By introducing celebrity people and community leaders in our audience, it always makes the dinner feel more intimate and friendly. This is one of the secrets that has made Gung Haggis Fat Choy such a cherished must-attend event for so many Vancouverites. After singing a chorus of “When Asian Eyes Are Smiling” or “My Haggis Lies Over the Ocean,” you have 9 brand new best friends at your dinner table… and 400 new friends surrounding you…. all singing Auld Lang Syne in Mandarin!
At that first dinner, we had no idea what was happening… we had a list of things that were supposed to happen at a traditional Robbie Burns dinner. I cooked most of the Chinese dishes, and other people brought or cooked some more of the dishes. But as the dinner grew to 40 people, then 100, then 200, then 400 and up to 590, it has always struggled with losing the original intimacies of the first dinners, while taking advantage of the opportunities for better performances and better sound/video technology as the dinner grew to larger venues.
“We are going to be showing clips from the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy which features some of the history of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, including being interviewed by Peter Mansbridge from The National, and also the CBC Vancouver TV special,” I shared with Burrows. “After all, how many times does a Burns dinner get to spin off a TV special… it's been pretty incredible!”
All the haggis is now ordered from Peter Black & Sons in West Vancouver's Park Royal. It's very fitting, since the first dinner of 16 guests took place in a North Vancouver town house. The haggis will soon be delivered to Floata Restaurant where they will make hundreds of deep-fried wun tun appetizers, as part of our haggis dim sum appetizer buffet that will greet guests on their arrival at 5:30pm
Tickets Tonight is handling all single ticket orders, while I take reserved tables of 10. There are many organizations and individuals reserving tables. These will all be announced during the “Calling of the Clans.”
Single ticket holders will all be assigned seating at “General Admission” tables in the order that they bought their tickets. Reserved tables of 10 will have the “Clan Names” place on the tables.
Our host organizations Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop, Historic Joy Kogawa House Society and the Gung Hagggis Fat Choy dragon boat team will each receive a portion of funds raised from the dinner, as well as provide volunteers for the event.
Raffle prizes are looking very good. Each year I talk with organizations that contribute to the intercultural nature of our arts community.
Banana Boys theatre – 2 tickets from Firehall Arts Centre
Italian Girl In Algiers – 2 tickets from Vancouver Opera
Voices of the Pacific Rim – 2 tickets from Vancouver Opera
The Quickie – 2 tickets from TF Productions
Book gift pack from Arsenal Pulp Press
Book gift pack from Harbour Publishing
and many more prizes…
So… everything is now set up. Media interviews are happening. Last week I was interviewed on Co-Op Radio by Rowan on Accordion Noir. This friday I am being interviewed by Eric Model for this radio and podcast for his Conversations on the Road show where he travels all across North America interviewing interesting people and stories.
Hmmm… what's next. Read Thursday's Georgia Straight to find the latest work in dress attire for Gung Haggis Fat Choy… and who will be wearing a kilt to the dinner.