Actually received two reviews for Baltimore within about an hour of each other so posting them both. Be sure to also see Mom O’Three’s review.
The 27th Annual Baltimore Feis, sponsored by The Kevin Broesler Parents Association was held on Saturday, September 20, 2014 with a start time of 8:45 am. It was held at the Chesapeake Arts Center / Brooklyn Park Middle School located at 194 Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park, Maryland. A cap of 850 was set and met.
Located about 6 miles from BWI airport, the location of the Feis is easy to find and plenty of hotels are within a 10-15 minute drive. For those traveling and needing an overnight stay, The Broesler school suggested 2 hotels on their syllabus: the Holiday Inn in Linthicum Heights and the Embassy Suites at BWI airport, however only the Holiday Inn had a Feis rate ($109.00) With the Feis being held near the airport there are plenty of hotel choices, therefore you can shop around for best rates. The Holiday Inn is where our family stayed- the hotel was clean, updated, and close to various restaurants. We felt it was worth the money and we would stay there again.
At the middle school where the feis is held, parking isn’t exactly ample but there are areas near the venue you can park if you cannot get a spot right at the school. The school was air conditioned, had multiple restrooms, but the hallways were somewhat crowded due to camping and vendors. A dress rack was located at the very end of the hallway near the area of Stage 6 where open champs danced.
Stages and Seating
Grades danced in the Cafeteria (stages 1 and 2) and Gymnasium (stages 3 and 4). Stages were raised wood and fairly large although I don’t understand why anyone older than 12 has to dance three at a time on the smaller sized stages. I watched a group of U13 dance their reel 3 at a time and the stage was too small forcing dancers to maneuver around each other without losing their concentration. Stage 2 danced up on the schools’ stage (think area of school chorus/recitals). I can tell you my dancer loved the idea of being on a “big stage” and having the judge looking up at her. In the cafeteria, spectators had to stand when watching the comps, while in the gymnasium there were 2-3 rows of folding chairs set up for spectators, but mostly people stood.
Dancers rotated throughout all 4 stages and thus were judged by four different judges (providing they danced all “core” dances). Judges seemed happy to be there and attentive.
Each stage had their own musician and each musician was fabulous! Acoustics were good, and mostly there were no issues hearing the music. (at one point the gym got very noisy due to loud talking parents and I couldn’t hear the music too well, but my dancer did not complain).
Food was available on the lower level, away from the comps. Prices were average and portions were large (chicken tenders were huge). Typical fast food fare, except for mashed potatoes!! Yes, they offered mashed potatoes! We try to bring food when I can organize myself well enough so I didn’t experience firsthand the food this time around. In the upstairs area they sold ice cream (generic dippin dots) and also had a table with baked goods, chips, water and gatorade. I didn’t see fresh fruit, yogurt or nuts so the score I gave reflects that, however if someone bought these at the feis please include that in a comment!
Good variety. Both Fayes and Rutherfords were there along with Head for the World (wig/hair accessories vendor), Goin Feisin, and a tshirt vendor offering Baltimore Feis T Shirts/etc.
The front lawn of the school was a nice place to camp due to the shade from the trees. Many people camped outside and thankfully the weather cooperated. The lawn had been freshly cut (but the grass clippings were not bagged). Inside, people camped in the hallway leading into the cafeteria and inside the cafeteria, which was spacious enough to camp. The gym wasn’t a good area to camp as there were 3 stages (2 grades and Prelim). A rainy day might change the score drastically but for this year they earn the score.
The feis began on time (8:45) startin with ceilis which ended around 9:15 am. The feis ended (for grades) at approx 3:15 pm. The schedule was unique ( for novice/pw) in that set was danced after Reel, then they had a (planned) break for lunch. Immediately after lunch ( lunch was from 11:30-12:15) they danced the charity Treble reel, Light jig, slip jig, hop jig, treble jig and finally hornpipe. A lot of shoe changing went on but not having to rush from stage to stage earns the feis flow a decent score.
Results and Awards
The results were computed by Feisweb and as usual the waiting time for results was very short! Placements were given to the competitors in the top 40-50% of their group. Medals were awarded for Beginner/Ad Beginner while Novice/PW received trophies for first-third place; any placement above third earned the dancer a decent quality custom medal with the Broesler School logo and ribbon to wear around your neck.
It was nice that the volunteers took advantage of the overhead intercom for announcements, however, continually announcing that lunch was available was distracting because it occurred while the dancers were dancing.
Twitter handle @Baltimorefeis notified users the Champ awards time and also posted pictures of the winners and the results.
This was the first time we attended the Baltimore Feis. When asking other families their opinion of this feis the feedback was varied. Some liked it and some only went because of the location. Our experience was positive and it was a worthwhile feis to attend. Scanning the competitior list there seemed to be a mix of regions/dance schools represented at this feis. Thus, the competition was strong which is perfect for this time of year as many dancers prepare for their Oireachtas.
A final thank you to the volunteers who work hard and devote countless hours of their time to put on an event of this size and quality.