The Chicago Scots, the first and oldest non-profit organization in Illinois, is thrilled to officially kick off their historic 175th anniversary year by hosting the 175th Annual Saint Andrew’s Day Gala, “The Feast of the Haggis”, on Monday, November 30 beginning at 6:30 p.m. This event, held annually, even in times of war, depression, and pandemics, will be hosted virtually for the first time since its inception to keep the safety of all patrons and participants of the utmost importance. During this tremendous celebration of tradition, all participants will have the opportunity to enjoy an exclusive Feast of the Haggis in A Box, specially curated by Award Winning Chef Gary Maclean, who will take purchasers through how to recreate various Scottish delicacies in the safety of their homes, as well as live entertainment including bagpipers and Highland Dancers, special awards presentations, and much more.
This annual festivity first began in 1845, when Chicago’s population was just 12,000. A group of immigrant Scots gathered at the city’s finest hotel, the Lake House, to celebrate Saint Andrew’s Day. There, they established Illinois’ first and still oldest charity, the Illinois Saint Andrew Society and adopted a simple mission: “Relieve the Distressed.” Since then, despite crises like the Civil War, Great Chicago Fire, the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the 1918 Pandemic, the Society (known today as the Chicago Scots) has never failed to host their “Feast of the Haggis.” On Saint Andrew’s Day, November 30, 2020, the Society will officially become the first 501c3 not-for-profit in Illinois to celebrate this milestone and kick off its 175th anniversary year.
All proceeds of the event will benefit Chicago Scots and its principal charity, Caledonia Senior Living and Memory Care. Around the world there are many societies that celebrate Scottish culture, but there is only one that has developed an elder-care community as a defined charitable purpose. For more than 110 years, generations of families have turned to and trusted the Chicago Scots to provide loving care at their five-acre campus nestled in the forest preserve, just west of downtown Chicago.
During this uniquely Scottish evening, the Chicago Scots will recognize achievement of excellence and contributions to Society by presenting their Distinguished Citizen Award, to Peter Georgeson, Founder of Scot Forge. The Chicago Scots have also created a new prestigious award to commemorate the 175th anniversary, the Makar’s Medal, which will be presented every five years to the seated Scots Makar – the poet laureate of Scotland.
This year’s 2020 Distinguished Citizen will be presented to Peter I. Georgeson, Founder and owner of Scot Forge, who has impacted Caledonia Senior Living as its most generous donor spanning more than four decades, and which continues to this day. Peter has been an influential figure at Chicago Scots throughout the 1980s-1900s. Peter is the ‘Man of Steel’ who led the enormous expansion of his family’s forging business into what is now a successful employee-owned company Scot Forge, a global industry leader. Peter and his wife were named Kinsman and Kinswoman of the year in 1986 in recognition of their volunteer efforts and generous support. Throughout the years, Peter’s generosity continued, gifting to build the 22-bed Georgeson Wing which expanded elder care services at Caledonia’s historic building the Scottish Home, as well as leading the gift for the Reimagine Tradition Campaign to help refurbish the interior of the Scottish Home, which to this day has raised over $4 million to refresh the 110-year old Home.
This inaugural Makar’s Medal Award will be presented to Jackie Kay, a critically acclaimed poet, playwright and novelist. Considered a poet of the people and the literary figure reframing Scottishness today, Jackie was born in Edinburgh in 1961 to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father, adopted by a white Scottish couple who also adopted her brother two years prior. Her Memoir, Red Dust Road, was published in 2010 and was awarded the prestigious Scottish Book of the Year, the London Book Award, and was also shortlisted for the Jr. Ackerley prize. It was also selected among 20 books for the World Book Night in 2013. Her first collection of poetry The Adoption Papers won the Forward prize, a Saltire prize and a Scottish Arts Council prize. Kay was appointed the third Makar in March 2016, was awarded a CBE medal, or Commander of the Order of the British Empire, in 2019, and is now a Chancellor of the University of Salford and Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.
To prepare for this year’s Feast of the Haggis, patrons will have the opportunity to purchase a Feast of the Haggis in A Box for $175 that serves two, specially curated by Award Winning Chef Gary Maclean, who will take viewers through how to recreate a couple of Scottish dishes and desserts in the safety of their homes. The Feast in a Box will include an event program, recipe cards, and a curated list of contents to help prepare your own Feast, including: two Chicago Scots etched whiskey glasses, two Chicago Scots cloth napkins, Caledonian Kitchen Highland Beef Haggis, Cold Smoked Scottish Salmon, Tracklements Wiltshire Beer Mustard, Mull of Kintyre Mature Scottish Cheddar, Highland Oat Crackers, Aegean Fig Chutney, and Scottish Highlands Heather Honey. Also included within the box is a photobook with memorable Feast of the Haggis pictures spanning the 175 years of the event’s history for all patrons to reminisce.
As one of the world’s largest Scottish cultural organizations, The Chicago Scots are dedicated to nourishing Scottish identity through service, fellowship and celebration. Sponsorship opportunities are available and range from $250 to $50,000 to be a premier Sponsor. Participants can purchase a “virtual table” and have the Feast in the Box sent to their guests. For more information on sponsorships, please email Dawn Miller at DawnMiller@ChicagoScots.org. Donations of any kind are also very welcome. For more information about the Chicago Scots’ 175th Anniversary kick off, or to purchase tickets to the 175th Annual St. Andrew’s Day and “Feast of the Haggis”, please visit Eventbrite. Kilts for the virtual event are optional, but as always highly encouraged!
This article originally appeared on the 360 Magazine website.