King O Sullivan Winterfeis 2018 – Grades Review

King O Sullivan Winterfeis was held January 26-27, 2018 at the Marriot Evergreen Resort within Stone Mountain Park, Georgia. Instrumental music and vocal competitions were held Friday evening. Grades, championships, figures, specials, art, and baking competitions were held Saturday. New this year were the additional Second Chance competitions for Novice, Prizewinner, and Championship dancers. This feis is the traditional start of the new feis season for Atlanta area dancers. Sadly, due largely to the severe flu going around, attendance was lower than usual.

VENUE: 8 out of 10

The venue is a hit with families. Heated indoor and outdoor pools, giant chess/checker boards, fitness center, coffee shop, many guest rooms with balconies, access to all of the Stone Mountain Park grounds, and a large wing of the building for events. Bathrooms are stripped of regular resort frills on the day of the feis. They were kept clean and stocked. But, they did get crowded. 2 of the 3 ballrooms had plenty of the space and seating. 1 was a cramped sardine can of a room, with dancers waiting in the hallway to line up. This caused confusion and delay, shown in the smaller room running behind schedule of the larger rooms. We have also heard that this confusion caused problems for dancers. 2 dancers, which we know of, were put on stage by the stage managers for the wrong competition. Both found out later that they had been disqualified. Either by the judge or by tabulations. We only heard about that happening in the smaller room. Stages were all raised, which made viewing easier. Especially from the back of the sardine can.

PARKING: 10 out of 10

Why so high? The feis committee took care of the usual park entry fee. A total savings of $15 per car, provided they remembered to tell the attendant on duty that they were there for the feis. Also, parking was a breeze for us. There was plenty of covered drive for unloading and loading. Finding a parking space was also not a problem for my darling Ash. We did arrive on Friday evening and left Saturday afternoon.

FEIS FOOD: 6 out of 10

The resort had a snack food and coffee station set up in the event wing of the hotel. The java was better in the lobby café, according Ash Wilkes. As his feis coffee is my usual barometer for the feis food, the score reflects his opinion. Of course, we appreciated having options. It is just nicer to have better ones. The food selection was limited and expensive. Of course, those in the know could walk over to Ms. Sam in the vendor room.

FEIS FLOW: 9 out of 10

Why so high? The grades were finished, with treble reels danced, before the lunch break. Why not 10 out of 10? The one point deduction is for those families whose dancers were disqualified for stage manager errors. A little more care and a little less haste could have prevented these unfortunate circumstances. All in all, this feis ran like a well-oiled machine. Schedules were adhered to and stages were kept moving. The side stage boards were easy to see and to follow.

MUSIC: 10 out of 10

Accordions! Blessed accordions! Oh, how sweet it was to hear your wonderful music in both the grades rooms. Of course, they were played by talented musicians. Words cannot express how pleased I am to have attended a feis with all grades dancers being accompanied by accordionists.

RESULTS: 8 out of 10

Paper posted results were in a room all their own. This kept the hallways clear and the dancers reactions to their results contained. Both good things. There were a few snags in postings. For the most part, it was about 20 minutes from dancing to posting. Some took longer than others, as the feis abyss seems to take up residence wherever tabulations room are set up. Over all, quick and smooth.

VENDORS: 10 out of 10

Why so high? One word.

SMARTIES! (WTF EDITORS NOTE: She is right, I do love Smarties)

Ms. Sam, from the Queen’s Pantry, was one of the vendors for this feis. She brought a case of Smarties. If money was no object, I would have bought the entire box. (And been the envy of Mr. WTF, I am sure.) As Ash would not permit, we bought a few of them. We saw that a few families were in the know and had placed orders. There were some happily stuffed purple bags walking around the feis. Now, we all know for next time. Also, there were feis t shirt vendors, dance shoes/socks, and wigs. If you needed it, you could buy it at this feis. On Saturday, there were massage therapy students offering free chair massages and a stretching table for all feis attendees.

JUDGING: 5 out of 10

As a rule, a perfect score in this category requires that my little darlings dance for a different judge each dance. This feis had soft shoe danced for the same judge and hard shoe danced for a different judge. So, better than all dances for the same judge. But, not the ideal feis judging situation.

AWARDS: 10 out of 10

The feis committee really went all out this year. Novice and above all received trophies for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places. There were lots of smiling dancers, leaving the awards room with an arm load of shiny, happy rewards for their dancing. Awards were down the hall from results, in their own room. As with the results room, this kept the hall ways clear. At least 3 people were able to hand out awards at a time, from computer check in stations, so crowding within the room was kept to a minimum. Championships were announced on stage, complete with podium and sashes.

SOCIAL MEDIA: 5 out of 10

There really isn’t much social media presence for the feis. The school has a facebook page and a website. The feis registration website has the information listed, as does the NAFC schedule site. As side from that, there isn’t anything else. So, if you had questions, they would need to be emailed to the feis chair, from the feis registration website. This can be a challenge, especially when many are used to posting a question on social media and receiving a quick response.

OVERALL TOTAL: 8 out of 10

Feis ATL 2017 – Grades Review

Feis ATL was held November 18, 2017, at the Renaissance Waverly Marriott, in Atlanta, GA. This feis is hosted by the Drake School of Irish Dance. Usually, this means fun, fabulous, crowded, and chaotic. Thankfully, this new venue handled the crowds and chaos beautifully. See also Venue.

VENUE: 10 out of 10

The Renaissance Waverly Marriott was a new experience for the Wilkes family. Hotel feisanna are not my favorite. This hotel convention center was a surprise. The ballrooms were large enough to handle the crowds. Music carry over was not an issue. Bathrooms were kept cleaned and stocked. Ash had a couple of options for his feis coffee, which made the feis more pleasant for the entire family. For younger siblings, there were a few entertaining options. Besides the escalators in the lobby, Feis ATL used a rented ballroom to show How to Train Your Dragon. Those staying in the hotel also had the option of a heated indoor pool.

PARKING: 8 out of 10

Plenty of hotel parking, at $10 a day hotel rate. The parking lot flow was confusing and poorly marked. This led to problems in navigating the lots. We encountered this upon leaving, not entering. Otherwise, it was a welcome change from the usual challenges of Atlanta parking.

FOOD: 7 out of 10

Great feis specific menu with reasonable prices. Personal pan pizzas for $5, which is the same as our local pizza spot. They also had sandwich plates, fresh fruit, and snack bags at the feis. The down side? Long service wait time, if you ordered at the bar or restaurant.

MUSIC: 7 out of 10

Pianist, violinist, accordianist. Thankfully, the violinist had a beat box hooked up the speaker system. Which was neccesary, considering he was covering music for 3 stages. There was no music carry over, that we noticed. One of our little darlings danced only with the violinist. Another one danced twice on the stages with an accordianist. Champ dancers were largely in a separate ballroom, accompanied by a pianist. Personally, I think they should have moved the violinist to cover a single stage, moved the accordionist to cover the 3 stage room, and put the pianist in the room covering two stages.

JUDGING: 7 out of 10

At a perfectly judged feis, in my opinion, each dance would have a different judge. This feis came close. Close, but no cigar. Two of our darlings danced for 3 different judges. One of our darlings danced for 2 different judges.

RESULTS: 7 out of 10

IFeis kept results coming out in a timely manner. This is the first iFeis feis we have attended that we have not encountered an issue with results, or of using the website at the feis. Their including information sheets with competition numbers probably had something to do with our personal success. Results were posted in a timely manner. They did not award top 50% in most competitions, which was confusing to us. Especially considering that a majority of the competitions contained 15 or more dancers. For example, in a traditional set competition with 10 dancers, only the top 4 were placed.

AWARDS: 8 out of 10

The awards of Drake competitions are usually fun and fabulous. This feis was no exception. Georgia Renaissance fair representatives assisted in giving out the championship awards. Some vendors sponsored championship awards. Top three were given CHAMPION scarves, sashes, and plaques. First place champions also received blankets. Grades received Feis ATL medals with green neck ribbons. Prizewinner, traditional set, and treble reel received Feis ATL star trophies.

VENDORS: 10 out of 10

  • Wigs
  • Irish dance supplies
  • Shoes
  • Dress resale rack
  • Just about anything an Irish dancer might need, or want, was available for purchase.
  • Two vendors carried genuine Cadbury chocolate, so I have decided to give the vendors my highest score. Any time I can buy genuine Cadbury, Is a good time.

FEIS FLOW: 7 out of 10

This would have been higher, if the feis program book had arrived on time. Program books were available for pre order on All of the details of the feis extras were contained within the feis program books. It told about the music and vocal competitions. It also gave the schedule for the movie showing, the evening Renaissance themed cocktail party, and themed events for the Sunday Hotlanta feis. These would have been very helpful, if they had arrived on time for registration Friday evening. We were not given one until Saturday afternoon.
Stages were run smoothly, which often happens with tablet check ins available with iFeis. Adjudication seemed to be done with relaxed manner on one of the grades stages, as we saw a young dancer approach and speak with an adjudicator on more than one occasion.

SOCIAL MEDIA: 6 out of 10

There is a public Facebook group for Feis ATL and Hotlanta. There is also a feis website. Both of these are updated periodically. They are also quick to respond to questions posted by potential attendees. Unfortunately, it was not utilized during the feis, to announce changes or the themed schedule. IFeis kept the feis stages updated on their website. This was easier to use, and loaded faster, than we have experienced previously. The lateness of the feis schedule posting certainly brought out comments on Facebook and other forums.

TOTAL: 8 out of 10

Celtic Rose Feis 2017 – Grades Review

Celtic Rose Feis 2017 was held October 21, 2017, at the Atlanta Marriott Century Center, near Emory University. The Celtic trilogy feiseanna are all hosted by the Rowena Ryan Irish Dance Academy. This feis offered several specials and cultural competitions, in addition to the regular ones. These included Gaelic spoken word, parent/child, Celtic art, soda bread, soft shoe, and hard shoe specials. This was the first feis, in a two feis weekend.

VENUE 7 out of 10

Hotel feis. Not my personal favorite. Crowded, chaotic. A Fire Marshall nightmare. It was also quite a challenge to reach. That being said, the Wilkes family did stay in the hotel. It was well appointed, clean, and the staff we encountered were friendly. Except when they were dealing with ballroom access bathroom problems. Or when the Georgia Tech football team event and the feis couldn’t seem to work out hallway traffic difficulties. They did get chairs out of the back closets for grandparents waiting in the confusion, which was kind of them. It also appeared to be strongly encouraged by the Georgia Tech football team staff. Velvet ropes were put into use in a couple of areas. But, otherwise, the staff was friendly. Several feis attendees were seen posing for photos with the football players.

PARKING 8 out of 10

Hotel parking was not a problem for us. We arrived the evening before. Ash was able to secure a spot with little trouble. I cannot speak to parking on the day of the feis, since we did not experience it. Also, since we waited quite awhile for dances to post, leaving the parking area was also not difficult. Getting a bell cart, and luggage assistance was a challenge. Ash ended up bringing out a cart himself, then going back inside to finish checking in.

MUSIC 10 out of 10

One musician for the grades stage. One for the championship stage. Thankfully, the grades stage musician was a talented accordianist. Which was a blessing, considering the crowded room and cramped staging area. He was exceptionally talented. He also dealt with cramped conditions and having his lunch pushed back until nearly 2pm with grace.

JUDGING 8 out of 10

Grades stages were rotated. All three of our little darlings danced for each of the three grades judges. Really, we could not have asked for better, given the cramped conditions of the ballroom. In a perfect world, though, each dance would have a different judge.

RESULTS 3 out of 10

The tabulation room was under staffed, and running behind. This impacted results. We experienced 30 minutes to an hour from dance to post. We noticed a couple of dances that were longer to post. A couple of families gave up waiting, and just went home. We stayed until all the dances that included our family were posted. For us, it was worth the wait. See also AWARDS. Adults from other local schools offered to help out in tabulation, which was happily accepted. This was an tabulated feis. We were not able to get the feis stage page to load. Apparently, we were in the minority, with a few other families. It was surprising to see a feis tabulated by this company run results posting so slowly. My only answer is the understaffed tabulation room.

AWARDS 8 out of 10

Red ribbon medals. Wooden long stem roses. Large, Ornate, gold and red trophies were given to those who placed in a soft shoe or hard shoe special. Treble reel and traditional set also received trophies. First place in prizewinner received crystal boxes. Each dancer who won an award received a wooden, long stemmed rose.

VENDORS 3 out of 10

We only noticed two vendors. Both were set up in the hallway, outside the championship room. It was so crowded and disorderly, that we did not venture further. This was disappointing, considering the far superior arrangement and assortment of vendors in the past.

FOOD 3 out of 10

Right. Food. Well, none at the feis. There was food available at the hotel. And a coffee shop. Always important for Ash Wilkes and his feis coffee. We ate elsewhere. Ash opted for in room coffee in the morning, due to long lines at the lobby shop. His mid feis coffee was from the lobby shop. He did not find much difference between the two cups.

FEIS FLOW 5 out of 10

Ish. The time which seems to drag out in waiting for a feis to begin. Or dances to be checked in. Stages to load. Then unload. And for the process to begin again. What time is it? Ish. Meaning they are taking all the time they want to run the feis. Don’t get me wrong, the volunteers were doing all they could, in the cramped space given them. We saw dancers struggle to get through to the front on several occasions. The volunteers did work to finish the grades dances before the lunch break. Which meant that the lunch break happened after 1:30pm.

SOCIAL MEDIA 6 out of 10

The feis sported a Facebook page and website linked from the school page. It was also run by, which ups their score. The Facebook page was updated regularly, in the days coming up to the feis. It was not, to our notice, used for updates during the feis. The website was up to date.

TOTAL 6 out of 10

North Coast Feis Eats, 2018

Apparently my luck for finding good food around Cleveland is pretty good, 2018 was no different. Be sure to visit the Feistaurants link for previous Cleveland based entries, but for this year we have two to add covering dinner and breakfast.

Click on any pic to see a bigger view and cycle through all of them. Oh, and please read the entire PJs review to find out why I might sound a little mean to start ;)


Hyatt Regency Schaumburg, IL – Best Customer Service Ever!

I have experienced some pretty good customer service in my life. Some came with the cost of whatever I was doing, so you would kind of expect it, and some was pure luck. Once, what I believe was a case of mistaken identity* got me the penthouse overlooking Tumon Bay in Guam, and that had some ‘perks’. That said, I think every previous customer service experience was bested by the staff at the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg this past weekend.

For Irish Dance readers, you don’t need much explanation, but since I expect others to see this, a little back story.

My daughter (TGC – the girl child) is a competitive Irish dancer.

We booked this hotel so we could go to Oireachtas (pronounced o-rock-tas), a regional championship for Irish Dance. The Mid America Oireachtas is always Thanksgiving weekend. There are several others in November and December. An Oireachtas will have several thousand dancers with all the parents, siblings, etc.. that come along with it.

You may have gathered already that I blog as What The Feis (pronounced fesh). A feis is a smaller more local competition. I am also whatthefeis on Facebook, and several other social media outlets. The What The Feis Facebook page as over 5000 followers. The hotel staff DID NOT know this beforehand.

I originally documented this on my Facebook page, but the hotel posts are mixed in with a lot of Oireachtas posts, foodie posts, things about my dancer, and my typical snarky ramblings, so I gathered all of them here, for easier, albeit a bit lengthy, reading. All the indented, italicized items are the posts from the page.

For my Facebook friends, you know TGC is dealing with a medical issue that may end her competitive career, we are still checking into all that since that news is recent. I only mention that because we went into this weekend thinking this could very well be her last competition. It really made the staffs efforts even more special, to me anyway.

I kept the hotel a secret until the writing of this post. I didn’t want any dance drama when other parents found what they were missing out on, and could very well be in the same hotel as me.

So, here is what happened… sorry again for the length, but in this day and age, this kind of caring is hard to find, especially when it comes from people who do something nice because they want to, not because they have to.

NOTE: You can click on any smaller pic to scroll through all of them in a bigger view.

How it all began…

My introductory post about an email I received from the hotel.

Getting ready to travel for this Oireachtas, I just have to share an email I received from the hotel where we will be staying. I will finish this story (and share the hotel) at the end of the weekend, but I wanted to set the stage now.

A snippet from an email from the hotel: “I am looking forward to your arrival on Wednesday, and wanted to reach out beforehand to see if you had any requests prior to your arrival. We would like to make your stay with us as enjoyable as possible! Please feel free to respond back to me directly….”

My response:

“Thanks for the note!

Actually we always request non-feather pillows. A roll away would be appreciated (please confirm this one). Lastly, we are there for the Irish Dance Regional Championships, so an upper floor at the end of the hall where my dancer can get some rest would be great if at all possible.

My wife asked for champagne on arrival, and my daughter would like a pet goldfish, mints on the pillow every night and for the towels to be folded into animal shapes, but if you could handle the items in the sentence above, that should suffice. :)

Thanks so much for the note. Looking forward to the stay!”

PLEASE NOTE: Mrs WTF and TGC do not expect those things, but they asked, so I included them in the email. Also noteworthy, this is one of the hotels in the block, not the Ritz.
Yes, that is my actual email. I received a response today saying he is working on it.

I will let you know how it went when the weekend is done. :)

The Arrival

Just got to the hotel, into our room and found this. If you have been following my posts, you get it. An exceptional welcome after a very long drive and OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE!

I failed to mention in my posts that the rep sent me an email in the interim. He had noticed we had a room with two doubles where a rollaway would not fit. He asked if we would like king with a rollaway instead. I jumped at the chance. That is what we usually get, but it was not available we we made the reservation.

Also, not only did he get us a quiet room, it was top floor, end of the hall. Irish Dance Hotel Nirvana.

And then this happened…


I was going to comment on the no champagne, joking of course, but anyway…

I took the luggage cart down to the lobby as TGC and Mrs WTF freshened up. As I was getting on the elevator, hotel staff walked by with a tray with a bottle of champagne. I thought, nah, couldn’t be..

I no sooner got to the lobby then Mrs WTF texted me a pic. TGC also texted me ‘come back upstairs, trust me.’

I went back to the room to find this.

Not sure what I did in life, but I am glad I did…


Trying to show our gratitude.

OK, I got the scoop…

I went to the front desk to find who delivered the tray since the Mrs had no cash, and I wanted to make sure the person got a tip.

The nice lady at the desk said it was all from the front desk staff, they had all seen my email, it made them laugh, and they wanted to make it happen, and that tipping wasn’t necessary.

For once, I am without words, but I have a heart full of gratitude. :)

And then a little later that evening:

I know it sounds braggy, and I am sorry, but this story just keeps getting better.

Got back from dinner, and realized we were going to save the bottle for tomorrow, so I went to find more ice.

I got to the elevators, and saw an older gentleman mopping the floor. I stopped to ask about ice, he saw the ice bucket and bottle, and said, ‘oh, you are here’ with a smile on his face.

I must have looked confused, because he followed up with the fact that he was the one who brought the rollaway to the room.

I got his name, thanked him repeatedly, and found the ice.

Don’t worry, I already have a plan in place to thank these wonderful people, in addition to reviews I mean, but I also realize I need to do a little more research to make sure I am thanking all of them appropriately.

So far I have 4 names, but I think it goes deeper :)

I thought it was over, and went back to my normal snarky posting…

And this morning, I found the towels shaped into animals. The bath mat is a snake.

OK, so maybe that was a stretch, but they literally did everything else in my email.


But it wasn’t over, so I brought the snark down a few notches…

THE HOTEL… I really thought it could not get any better…

Since we were up early to get TGC tanned, and then got brunch, the room had not been cleaned by the time we got back. Contrary to what you might think, we are really not high maintenance, so we put up the do not disturb sign so TGC could rest. She is still trying to beat that respiratory infection.

I put my head down too, and was startled awake by the phone. It was housekeeping. She asked if we needed service, and I told her we were fine, but thanks for checking on us, and then she said, ‘can I bring by the animals?’

I kind of laughed, and asked if she was serious, she said yes. Of course I said yes, and two minutes later she was at the door with what is in the pic.

I thanked her repeatedly. She smiled as she left and said, maybe there will be more animals tomorrow.

I really don’t know if I will ever be able to stay with a different chain in the future.


Another Clue

Another question answered…

For those of you that were wondering, and I was wondering, I am fairly sure that this WTF gig had nothing to do with my welcome at the hotel.

As I sat polishing tonight, another family I know IRL checked in and we chatted. They got the same email, and the only connection we can see is that we are both members of the hotel rewards program.

Oh, and the other family did not reply to the email :(

I thought it was over (again)…

HOTEL UPDATE… Well, returning to the hotel after 15 hours at the venue, I am both sad to report, and yet a little relieved, that the surprises appear to have come to an end. They literally got everything on my list, plus a few extra things, so I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting everything that happened either.

Tomorrow I will hopefully meet the Mastermind. I will let you know how that goes. I have a little something for him and his co-conspirators.

Stay tuned…

The ‘extra things’ I mentioned are in the pic but were not in our email (the snarky part of the email). They included chocolate covered strawberries, 3 cookies the size of softballs, and two ice cold glasses of milk.

The Final Chapter, and oh, what a finish…

The Hotel, Final Chapter? Hell, I don’t know…

So earlier today, I met the people who lead the challenge sent in the email, although I still stand by the fact it was sarcasm.

Anyway, I had bought a card and some gift cards for some drinks and appetizers for hopefully all the people involved, and gave it to the guys, with my sincerest thanks, and a little lump in my throat considering what a rollercoaster the last few days have been. Their thoughtfulness has made this Oireachtas memorable for so many reasons more than Irish Dance.

I also told them about you guys, how I have documented every new chapter in this story, how so many people have commented on the story, how you want to know what hotel it is, and why I am stalling sharing the hotel, etc… and I gave them my business card, and told them where they could see the posts. I said thanks again, and I thought that was that.

Well, went to the venue for ceilis and trad sets, saw our dancers do great, including a first in one of the trad comps, sat through just enough awards to see how our ceilis did, and then went to dinner. On the way back into the hotel, TGC wanted dessert and I wanted a beer, so we went to the bar to take some stuff to the room.

As we left the bar, I saw John, the initial emailer whom I had met earlier, and he asked me why I was carrying a beer, and if I had been to the room yet. I said no, and he said ‘you might want to go on up. I read the posts and realized we took care of everyone elses request, and I saw a post that that gave me an idea.’ or something like that. I was kind of in the ‘oh no he didn’t’ mindset. I smiled, shook his hand, told him again what a great job his team had done, and headed for the elevator.

As I was going to the elevators, I got a text from Mrs. WTF that said, ‘seriously, come up here.’ I hadn’t even made it to the room when she called my cell. I didn’t answer, I was 12 feet from the room.

I walked in and found what is in the pics, including the note, also in the pics.

Second time this weekend I was without words. I really cannot think of ANY time in my life when people who do not even know me put this much effort in on my behalf. I rewrote this paragraph a few times, because the words have not been quite right. They still aren’t, but I think you get the picture.

So, hotel to be named Monday, Thank You again. You have done more for the reputation of your company then any effort I have seen by any other person/group/company. I look forward to the next opportunity to stay with your chain, especially if it is anywhere near Schaumburg, because I know where I will be staying.

Oh, and I made the card out to John and the Co-conspirators, and they had no idea I had a FB page with 5K followers. John was doing his job, I was being me, and it just grew from there.

And there you have it

Not really sure how to end this, except for saying I hope every one of you get a chance to experience this kind of service one day. It meant so much to my family, and Hyatt will be our first choice for all our future hotel choices.

Mistaken Identity Footnote: I think the hotel thought I was the Commander of 7th Fleet (a Vice Admiral), instead of a Commander who worked with 7th Fleet, but that is speculation.

Irish Dance Terms .v3

Irish Dance Terms are our attempt to label those Irish Dance things we know, but which don’t have a ‘real name’.


noun clus·ter·feis \ˈklə-stər-fɛʃ\
1 : a complex and utterly disordered and mismanaged situation :  a muddled mess, when it comes to anything related to Irish Dance
2 : a way to say what you are REALLY thinking when your Irish Dancers are in earshot and you can’t say what you are really thinking.

examples of clusterfeis

  • The construction on I-65 North driving home from Nationals was a real clusterfeis

origin of clusterfeis

  • Ohio English
  • First known usage: 21st century

North Coast Feis Eats 2017

Seems like I only eat on odd years at North Coast, since I have Feistaurant Reviews for North Coast Feis Eats 2013 and North Coast Feis Eats 2015. 2017 is no exception.

For this year, we stayed out in Independence instead of our usual stay downtown. We did not have to get up to early for the feis and we found one of our go to hotels at a very reasonable rate. When we checked in, the front desk staff offered us a area restaurant list that was 4 pages long… now thats what I am talking about. The list had some of the chains, a local Winking Lizard (I reviewed the downtown location in the 2013 Eats link above) and a bunch of stuff we were not familiar with. So overwhelmed, we just went down to the desk to ask for recommendations.

The nice lady at the desk checked off a variety, one of which was a grilled cheese restaurant called Melt. I looked at her with that ‘grilled cheese?’ look on my face and asked, do they have beer? Why yes, and its not just grilled cheese. Since my Winking Lizard recommendation was overruled by Mrs WTF and TGC, we headed towards Melt… at least they have beer.

The sign inside, over the front door, in the waiting area

The album cover Mrs WTFs menu was on the back of…

We got there about 6pm and there was a 20ish minute wait. If we had waited another 30 minutes or so before arriving, we probably would have been seated immediately. Seemed like there is an after work rush, then it slows down. Greeted with eclectic decor, like neon signs, lighted plastic holiday yard decorations and lots of tvs with cartoons instead of sports, it had a 70s kind of vibe. This was confirmed when we realized the menus were on the back of 33 1/3 album covers. Mrs WTF had Babs (the one in the picture), and mine was Captain and Tenille. I don’t recall TGC’s.

They also had a separate menu with an extensive beer list, about 40 on tap plus more in bottles, but I am a draft guy. Also available a variety of mixed drinks.

Wet Hot Buffalo Chicken with creamy blue cheese slaw, crumbled blue cheese… ah, yum.

I was going to go for something other than grilled cheese, until I saw what they could do with grilled cheese. If I had to guess, I would say there are around 40 different ones available, and when I saw the buffalo chicken with blue cheese, I kinda knew what I was eating that evening (pictured). Mrs. WTF had an eggplant parmigiana and TGC had a chicken parmigiana sandwich, and they both ordered half a sandwich. I should have, I could not finish it all.

See their grilled cheese options and full menu here. Definitely worth a visit, or revisit!

Cool sign over the exit at the rear of the restaurant.

Melt Independence: $$ – We paid about $55 for 3 of us, which included 2 beers each for me and the Mrs.

Muggivan Feis Grades Review 2016

Muggivan The Inaugural Muggivan Feis took place on October 23, 2016, hosted by the Muggivan School of Irish Dance-Virginia on the grounds of the Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games in Richmond, VA. The Muggivan Feis is a casual dress feis, with all dancers wearing the event t-shirt and dark bottoms. The t-shirt design was beautifully done on front and back of a white short sleeve t-shirt. There was a feis rate available at the host hotel for those needing hotel rooms.


The Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games take place on the grounds of the Richmond Raceway, in a grassy area outside of the racetrack. There was ample parking available and plenty of space within the festival grounds to accommodate all attendees. There was also a Highland dance competition happening on the same day, so plenty of dancers and dance families around if anything was needed! Only 1 dance vendor was present at this event, but there were plenty of Scottish and Irish vendors throughout the festival for an eclectic shopping experience. This festival also had a large selection of food vendors for breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare. This event did serve alcohol (arm band required).


As an outdoor event, the stage was located under a tent. Three stages were indicated on the syllabus, but on feis day this manifested as one large (approximately 36 x 12) rectangle that was divided by white tape into 3 (approximately 12 x 12) sections. The stage was elevated at the nearest end approximately 1 foot from the ground and approximately 3 feet from the ground on the far end in order to keep the stage surface level. The stage was covered with Marley/shower pan type sheeting. The festival grounds were quite dusty and the tent had no sides so breaks were taken to sweep the dust from the stage. These individual sections of the larger stage were cramped to say the least with ALL ages of grades dancers dancing 3 at a time. Ceili dances were danced 1 group at a time.


There was a judge assigned to each stage and dancers/judges rotated so that each dancer had 2-3 judges. Judges were attentive, helpful, and left comments.


Carolyn Bartley was the single musician for this feis and she played from 0930-1930 with very few breaks. Ms.Bartley did an excellent job and even festival goers gave compliments to her playing.


As with any first feis, there are going to be some bugs and I think the overall flow of the feis is where any bugs were seen most prominently. The feis began at 0930 with Champs only, utilizing all 3 judges and the full size of the stage. The schedule got ahead before lunch and shortened the lunch break but ceilis remained on time with a 4pm start. It was announced that 2 of the 3 judges had flights to catch and had to leave the venue at 6pm, so grades were run at a break-neck speed and it was also announced that no dance would be held for missing dancers. The communication between stage and check in volunteers began to suffer due to this ultra-fast pace. Trad sets and other special dances completed at 1915 with car headlights illuminating the stage for the remaining judge.


Results were posted in a very small, hard to access area being staffed by 1 volunteer. Results went up in no particular order and got slower and slower as the day progressed. By the end of the day this poor volunteer was swamped with parents, dancers, and TCs looking for results. Beginner through Novice dancers were awarded customized medals with two colored neck ribbons. Whoever worked on the design and execution of the medals did an excellent job! Prizewinner and champs received large trophies, also well designed and very attractive!


The schedule was released a week in advance and the host hotel would not allow grades parents to cancel reservations that were no longer needed due to such a late grades start. The feis has no control over the hotel of course, but I think this contributed to the overall level of unhappiness (long day, school night, etc) witnessed at the event. I hope that the feis committee keeps all of the great things that they accomplished at this feis and just improve on the 1 or 2 issues and it will definitely be a successful Virginia feis!

Rhythm of Ireland Feis 2016 – Grades Review

Booster LogoThe Rhythm of Ireland hosted their annual feis the weekend of October 15-16, 2016 in Williamsburg, VA. This review covers the Ceili/Grades competition on Sunday.

What The Feis Editors Note: Thanks to new contributor DD Feis Mom for this review. The review is the opinion of the reviewer, and does not necessarily reflect those of What The Feis, especially since I was not there.


The Rhythm of Ireland (ROI) feis is hosted at the Doubletree by Hilton in Williamsburg,VA. The ballrooms were spacious and organized around 2 central hallways on the opposite side of the hotel from the occupant rooms. A feis rate was offered at the host hotel for those attending this feis.

Score: 9/10

Local Attractions

The Doubletree by Hilton is centrally located to all of the area’s many attractions. Busch Gardens has an entry point just outside of the hotel property, all of the historic attractions are within a 15-20 minute drive, and there are shopping options galore. A discounted rate was offered to all 3 of the historical sites—Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, and Yorktown Victory Center.


There were 6 stages, arranged 2 per ballroom with a piece of yellow tape demarcating the line between the stages. The stages were pressed wood about 1 ½ inch off of the floor covered in Marley. Ceili 4 hand teams dance 2 teams at a time. Due to the smaller size of these stages there were a few instances of teams having to squash their figures so as not to bump the other team. Grades dancers danced 2 at a time as well.

Score: 7/10


There was a judge assigned to each stage and judges rotated after the soft shoe dances. Most dancers danced for 2, sometimes 3 judges. Each judge on our stages were very attentive to the dancers and their safety. Most parents reported seeing the judges writing notes during the dances, however, at the time of writing, score sheets had not been distributed.

Score: 7/10 (if scores are received with comments I’d definitely change to 9/10!)


Each set of 2 stages shared a musician. Our musician seemed poorly prepared for the types of music required for ceilis and grades dancers, however other parents had no issues with their musicians. I’m willing to strike it up to a bad day for our musician.

Score: 7/10

Feis Flow

This feis was unusual in regard to flow. Ceilis started 15-20 minutes late, and due to confusion of scheduling and what information was given to the musicians there were many “breaks” in between ceili competitions. Grades competitions started about 75 minutes late and the judges took a 5-10 minute “break” in between each type of dance ie dance reels, take a break, dance slip jig take a break, dance light jig, take a break, dance single jig, take a break, etc. There was also a break after all soft shoe dances to rotate judges between stages. This made for a very disjointed feis experience. I feel for any first timers who attended this feis.

Score: 4/10


There were 2 on-site restaurants and a small Starbucks within the hotel. The Starbucks was clearly not used to such large crowds in short timespans (as feis goers tend to be) and there were significant wait times during peak periods. Many food options were available off site within a short drive for those feis goers with long breaks between dances.

Score: 7/10


There were 4 vendors at ROI 2016. Two vendors for ID gear (hairpieces, wigs, socks, bling, etc), a custom T shirt vendor, and a photographer. These vendors were located in a central hallway between stages 1-4 and 5-6 with lots of room and easy access. If you needed a basic ID supply you could certainly find it here, but if looking for a more specialty piece this was not the feis for shopping.

Score: 6/10


Results were posted in a separate, medium sized conference room. All of our dancers results were posted 20 minutes after the last dance was completed! Lightning speed! With the spacious hallways, good signage, and large space for postings it was very easy to find results. There was also a volunteer stationed in the room to help feis goers find what they needed. The champ podium was also stationed in this room if grades dancers wanted to do pictures with the podium, a nice touch on the feis’s behalf. Awards were in a separate, very spacious room just down the hallway. Medals were given for Beginner through Novice for 1st-3rd placements. Prizewinners received trophies for 1-3rd placements and a medal for 4th placements.

Score: 8/10


The stage schedule and competitor lists came out less than 24 hours prior to this feis. This was attributed to a hurricane that had minor effect on this area about 10 days prior. After travelling to this area for the feis, and having experience with hurricanes in Florida, I saw no signs of hurricane damage. In the time since the feis, there has been poor communication through all means provided to reach the feis committee/dance school. We are 5 days post feis and a proper score card is not available, despite promises of being distributed. With a feis this close to Oirechtas it would be greatly appreciated to receive any comments the judges saw fit to give. The overall experience of this feis was such that I doubt I will give ROI a second chance, which is such a shame because many parents I spoke with who have attended for many years stated that “it used to be such a great feis”.

Shoe Shining – You Got What It Takes?


Last week I received a message from a Facebook follower that highlights the potential dangers of pre-Feis shoe shining. Thankfully, she saw the humor, and admits she is accident prone, so she wanted to share the story.

I was upset that she had been injured, but saw the humor in her story, and asked if I could share. She approved, with some ‘editing’ and if I promised not to use her name. Read the story, would you admit if it was you?  ;)

So, without further ado…

Hello! I thought I would share this story, because in retrospect, it IS a little funny.

So I’m dancing at the [snip] Feis tomorrow, and it is my first Feis since December 2011.

So thinking of your wise words, I decided to shine my shoes. But first, I tried to get the many layers of duct tape and glue off the tips. It wasn’t coming off easily, to I used a metal scraper (not a razor blade, thankfully).

I was nearly done with shoe #1, when the scraper somehow slid from my hand and cut the skin of my thumb from top to side. We’re talking a big carton-paper cut type of thing. So I call my husband for help.

He gets the band aids and the disinfectant, starts to clean and dress my wound… and I faint. I have never been very good with blood.

So all in all, my shoes only got polished this morning, but darn, shoe shinning can be dangerous! (I’m joking). I am accident prone, what can I say. The crazy thing was, I was not going to do it, but remembering your wise words, I kicked my butt to do it. Maybe I should have remained lazy!

As we messaged back and forth about her story, she did add:

P.S. I shared this story because I see humor in the situation. I am in no way blaming you for influencing me to shine my shoes and getting hurt in the process. I am a klutz, accident prone, and I know it.

I felt it necessary to remind her that no where in my shoe shine post do I recommend scrapping anything off with a metal scraper :)

Thankfully, it was not a career ending injury ;)  and we could both had a laugh.

I would like to remind everyone to stick to the tools I recommend in my post. There are no sharp objects there, and the very worst that can happen is a contact high from sniffing polish or a nasty black stain that won’t come out easily.

Be safe, keep shining, and leave the metal tools to the pros ;)