Ode to the Haggis: Livingston church celebrates years of the Celtic tradition

Samantha Hill

For the past 10 years, Livingston’s St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church has held its Celtic Festival, and it isn’t complete without the haggis.

“Haggis” is a mixture of animal parts, onions, oatmeal, spices and fats cooked in a casing. It is a traditional dish served in Scotland and can also be found at St. Andrews’ Celtic Festival set for Saturday at Livingston’s Elk’s Lodge.

Every year since the festival began, the church has received the traditional dish from Pioneer Meats in Big Timber.

Pioneer Meats co-owner Brian Engle said that every haggis recipe is a secret but the general components of theirs is lamb parts and tongue along with beef trim and fats. Most of the time the animal parts are ones people weren’t going to use.

Engle said each year when they make the dish, it’s not the same as it was the year before.

“We season to taste, so that means its a little different each year,” he said.

Traditionally, all of the parts are stuffed in a sheep’s stomach and boiled, but nowadays it’s cooked in a synthetic casing, which is something the Big Timber butcher shop also goes with.

“We don’t really have the resources to do it (the traditional) way,” Engle said.

Along with the haggis, there will also be wild game and other traditional meals served at the festival.

Before diving into the food, there will be reading of a poem called “Ode to the Haggis” at the event.

Also featured at the festival will be Celtic dancing and a new band, Thorns Among Roses, to provide the music for it.

There will also be auctions ,which will earn money for local charities.

St. Andrew’s church administrator Christine Witeside said they have the Celtic Festival each year because the church was named for the patron saint of Scotland, and it’s a great way to celebrate the new year.

The event will be 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Elk’s Lodge. Tickets are $25 in advance at local event retailers and $30 at the door. For more information, call 222-0222.