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

Feis Na Tara, Grades 2015 Feis Review

e0a4210058da1cb28f5b092e3b8bce4dThe, possibly, 20th anniversary Feis Na Tara was held February 27-28, 2015. The feis was held at the Marriott Atlanta Airport. This feis holds competitions on Friday night and all day Saturday. The Devil Went Down to Georgia treble reel is a popular event for all ages. These are held on Friday night. This year, the proceeds went to the Wounded Warrior fund. This feis also offers competitions in Celtic Art, Music, Vocals, Gaelic, and Baking. These are in addition to the grades, championships, and figure competitions.

If the stars fell on Alabama, then the stardust fell on Georgia. Or at least the glitter. This feis is an excellent example of the shiny, glittery, happy feis world of the Southern Region. This was a very shiny feis. This was seen in the many different crystal awards on Friday night to the lovely crystal prizes awarded to the champs. Also, the Southern Region has a reputation for bling. From the grades to the champs, there were many shiny, happy dancers. (Some of them even held hands.)


If the devil really did go down to this Georgia feis, he certainly did not bring the heat! This proved to be a cold venue. It is also hotel feis. Some readers may already know that the Wilkes family doesn’t particularly care for those. This feis is a good example of why. Crowded rooms, tight hallways, odd lighting, and many different rooms to navigate. Southern hotel feisanna also tend to become Sardine Can Feisanna. At least in the Grades room, this was no exception. You could also have called the grades stages Sardine Can Competitions. (See also Stages)
The hotel rooms were reasonably priced. While we did not hear the airplanes, we did hear many of our neighbors. The hotel was packed. So, while Mr. WTFeis had a quiet experience, our hallway was much noisier. Thankfully, we were able to play classical music to soothe a couple of our darlings to sleep. By the time the youngest darlings were asleep, the hallway and adjacent room noise had settled down to a dull roar.

5 out of 10


Again, I am very glad to know that Mr. WTFeis was able to secure the most inexpensive parking option. When we arrived, self parking was no longer an option for hotel guests. So, Ash Wilkes paid the $20 valet fee. Since there are no nearby restaurants or shops, we did not have extra expenses with tips to get the car in or out.

4 out of 10


Southern Sardine Can Stages. Perhaps the Southern Sausage Stages would be more appropriate. Either way, the grades stages were ran like a conveyor belt. They packed them into their competition lines. Then, they were slid across the 3 stages for the soft shoe competitions. It was obvious that this method was confusing to the beginners. There were several missed starts, misunderstandings, and re-dances in the beginners competitions. The older, experienced grades dancers handled this schedule very well. My guess is that many of them had experienced it before. This is our 2nd year at the grades stage of this feis. So, while we knew what to expect, our youngest little darling was extremely confused. They were also very tired at the end of their dances.

The stages were about 2″ off the ground. Treble Koted plywood, screwed onto the supports. The crowds on the stages and the crowds in the grades room made viewing difficult. Also, the chairs go to the early attendees. You cannot arrive at 7:55am and expect to find a seat in the grades room. Also, if you plan to attend the Peach State Feis, the same is also true. Most of the chairs were filled by 7:30am, with the remainders being completely taken by 7:45am.

4 out of 10

Feis Flow

The feis volunteers are truly amazing at this feis. The Mulligan School is relatively small. But, they know how to hold a big feis. There is also much love and appreciation between the school TCRG and the families of the school. This was shown in the opening ceremony of the feis. Bag pipes, instrumental trio, banners, and presentations showed how much the members of the school enjoy the journey of Irish Dance.

The stage monitors were extremely helpful and polite. They did everything in their power to help everyone in attendance enjoy the feis. I did not see the radios used at some other events. But, they seemed to be well informed and connected.

Having figures on only 2 stages caused the feis to start S.L.O.W.L.Y on all counts. Also, please see Music and Stages. Those challenges also caused the grades stages to run less than efficiently. My suggestion would be to hold the 8 hands on the champs stage. The 2, 3, and 4 hands could continue to be held on the grades stages. All of the 8 hands were older dancers. Many of them were upper level grades and champ level dancers. The rooms at this venue are also fairly close together. So, it would free up the grades stages more quickly. These ran slowly based on several other factors. It would not increase the amount of time spent waiting in the Champs room. It may decrease it.

5 out of 10


Friday night Adult and Treble Reel competitions were done with canned music. Saturday, the grades stages were accompanied by a violinist. While talented, it was difficult for one light stringed instrument to accompany 3 stages. Also, a delay on one stage created holds on the other stages. Some of the competitions had 20 or more dancers. Others held only a handful. The Wilkes family certainly missed hearing the blessed accordion. If a violin is to be the instrument of choice next year, I would recommend a duet. With a room and stages in their current set up, the back beat/bass notes are lost. An additional instrument would assist in keeping those lower notes heard. These are especially important, in our opinion, in the treble jigs and hornpipes.

4 out of 10


There is one distinct benefit to the conveyor belt style stage system. Guaranteed judge rotation. While this is, in part determined by the number of competitions, all of our darlings had at least 3 different judges for their competitions. Not the perfect different judge for each dance scenario. But, it is much better than the last two feisanna we have attended, with a single judge for all competitions.

8 out of 10

Social Media

This is not a social media feis. It does not have a Facebook page. They have received a 2 instead of a 0, because they are excellent in returning phone calls and emails. There is certainly potential for this to become a more Social Media friendly feis. Especially with several of their school champs potentially handling those posts/announcements.

2 out of 10

Feis Food

As there were a couple of coffee stands available, Ash Wilkes was able to have his pre Feis coffee. He also had his mid Feis coffee. And his post Feis coffee. Also, the lines were not long at the hotel Sbux. So, from that stand point alone, it was an excellent feis food venue. We did not wait in the lines at the venue food counters. Our family only purchased the breakfast buffet at the hotel. Service was attentive and polite. The prices were in line with what we have experienced in our travels. We did NOT eat dinner or purchase drinks. So, please see the Champs Review for that information.

10 out of 10


The Wilkes family were most pleased to see Unique Engraving at this feis. Not only did the company create lovely trophies for the feis. They also brought their engraving machines, medal stands, and medal ribbon selection. Feis Na Tara boasts of more than a dozen perpetual trophies. They also award several wooden plaques to different competitions. All of these can be engraved at the feis by Unique Engraving.

There were also

  • Feis shirts
  • Dance shoes/socks
  • Hair bobs/wigs/bling
  • Züca sales and accessories
  • European candies/snacks/drinks

10 out of 10


It is a somewhat expected regional occurrence to receive the medal without the neck ribbon. King O Sullivan, Feis Na Tara, Little Rock, and River Valley Feis all give medals without ribbons. Unique Engraving is usually present at these feisanna. They sell many different types/colors of medal ribbons and holders. Some families anticipate this occurrence, and bring their own medal ribbons from home.

That being said, the trophies were nicer this year, than in years past. Prizewinner First Place received a 12″ trophy and a small crystal gem. Remaining Prizewinner placements also received trophies. Novice, and below, received medals. We saw several families purchasing medal stands, to turn their awards into trophies. In the treble reels, everyone received a crystal gift, before the awards placements were announced. The Wilkes family appreciates these participation gifts. There are several children in the Southern Region who feis with medical challenges. These children do not often place as frequently in their dances as their more healthy competitors. Several of these families are friends of ours. A few of them enter the extra competitions, in order for those medically challenged dancers have an opportunity to shine. So, while others may speak derisively against such things, the Wilkes family applauds them!

10 out of 10

Thank you, Feis Na Tara, for ensuring that all participants have the opportunity to dance their best and take home a prize. The Wilkes family enjoyed this feis. We hope to return next year.

Overall Score – 6 out of 10

What did you think?

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Feis Na Tara, Champs 2015 Feis Review

e0a4210058da1cb28f5b092e3b8bce4dThe 20th Annual Feis Na Tara was held on Friday & Saturday, February 27th & 28th 2015 by the Mulligan School of Irish Step Dance and the Tara Dance Company, at the Marriot Atlanta Airport, in Atlanta, Georgia. This was our first trip to this feis.

I am attempting to make this a Champs review, in the hopes another reviewer who also attended will be providing a Grades Review (no pressure), but I have included some Grades notes below, just in case 🙂


A hotel feis, if you guys have followed for a while, you probably know how I feel about hotel feiseanna. Generally, I am not a fan, but truth be told, this one wasn’t that bad for the reasons that usually irritate me about hotel feiseanna.

There were three rooms used to house all the feis-tivities, the PC/OC stage area, the Grades stage area, and the Results/Awards/Used Dress area. All were very close to each other for those folks who had to be in two places at once 🙂

Temperature wise, the rooms ranged from comfortable to ‘do you want to build a snowman’. Mrs WTF had to go get a sweater for the Awards room.

Vendors were set up in the hallways, which is usually where I have issue, but this wasn’t bad. The hallways were wide enough to house the vendors and still have enough room for a flow of people. It helped that the vendors were set up on the way into the the awards and grades rooms, so that once you were in, there wasn’t too much back and forth traffic, if that makes sense.

I only saw one restroom for each gender, and they were in the hall that connected the main lobby to the feis area, but still not to far away. I did see lines at the womans room, but never really at the mens, go figure 😉

The hotel was also the feis hotel and the rooms were nice, relatively cheap at $89 compared to other feiseanna I have been to, and very quiet considering the airport was literally RIGHT THERE and there was a constant flow of planes.

The hotel had a nice restaurant ($$$$) and a small convenience store where you could buy SBux drinks and other things. They also set up a cash and carry food stand for the feis in a separate room.

I can’t speak to the parking for people who attended that day, but those that stayed over paid $10 for in-and-out parking. I can imagine that parking was hard to find close, because even for guests the lots were very full.

For a hotel feis, I prefer this over Saturdays in Pittsburgh (see Pitt or WV feis reviews) or the St. Louis feis I attended at one a few years ago.


Camping, what’s camping? I understand that designated camping areas are not common at Southern Region Feis, so suffice it to say, there were none. People lined their stuff up against hallway walls, and took up as many chairs as they needed for their stuff. We put ours in a back corner and were always able to find chairs to sit on, so, even without ‘camping’ it wasn’t bad. A smaller cap then we are used to probably helped.

Stages and Seating

There were 5 stages designated, but in my opinion, it was more like 2 and a half.

Stages 1, 2, and 3 were in the grades room and were actually one really big stage divided with tape into 3 smaller ones. If I had to guesstimate, I would say it was about 48′ wide by 16′ deep making each ‘stage’ 16′ x 16′.  The issue, they were backed up to the back wall, so there could be two or three lines of dancers waiting to dance. Mix that with the occassional ‘handlers’ for younger comps, and there could be LITERALLY 50 people on the stage(s). Not a lot of room to dance.

Thaats a lot of dancers, and thiese were NOT some of the bigger groups I saw.

That’s a lot of dancers, and these were NOT some of the bigger groups I saw.

Seemed like there was a lot of seating for the grades room, but I only breezed through that room a few times. There were a lot of people standing, which made navigating the room difficult. Lets just say, it was kind of tight in there.

The champs room held stages 4 & 5, which like the other room was actually only 1 big stage(which is how it was used for the champs), divided in half by tape. I estimate it was 36′ wide and 20′ deep, and was a nice size for champs. I wondered why they had it split but TGC informed me they had done some sets on both halves earlier.

Seating was adequate, I refer you back to my Camping mention above.

All stages were  neither plain plywood, or marley covered, but were painted with something that appeared to me to be somewhere between chalkboard paint, and the non-skid paint we used on the Navy ships I was on, to keep people from slipping on wet decks. OK, so these were not gritty, but that is what it reminded me of. Whatever it was, it worked. I saw no slips or falls during any of the dancing I observed.

Feis staff appeared to be on top of stage maintenance. While I did not see any sweeping (granted I was not near the stages during the lunch break), I saw staff pick up anything that had fallen off dancers numerous times between dances.

Recommendation: As I think about it, I am not sure how much room was between stages 1, 2 and 3 and the wall behind them, but if they could pull the stages out a few feet, it would give the dancers more room to stand off-stage, and more room to dance on it. This would cut into spectator area though.


I cannot speak to the grades level judging, other than the fact there was one on each stage. How often or if they rotated I do not know. Hoping for a Grades Feis review to help with these details.

There were three judges for the PC and OC stage, whom seemed attentive. I also saw that they accommodated a judge conflict very smoothly, with a quick judge change and no noticeable interruption to the feis flow.

A list of the judges can be found here.


Combined stages, so only two musicians for the feis, one in the Champs room, and one in the Grades room. This caused some VERY NOTICEABLE stage delays in the Grades room where I saw dancers standing on stage because their comp had finished, but larger comps of other one or the other (or both) stages were still dancing.

No musical confusion because of the separate rooms which was nice.

A list of the musicians can be found here.


I did not feel the hotel was ready for the onslaught of dancers and fans. The cash and carry (I understand) was a nightmare at lunch time, and the times I went in there before lunch, it seemed like they had a standard sandwich, salads, drinks type selection, but it was all expensive. We paid $3 for an 8oz bottle of water.

The restaurant was not staffed for lots of people. We had 45 minutes, but did not have time to order a meal, and settled for appetizers and drinks. The restaurant food was excellent, even the appetizers (we had eaten there on Friday night too), but was REALLY, REALLY, REALLY pricey, especially if you wanted to enjoy a beer or glass of wine with your meal.

The small store had salads, wraps (I think) etc… but very limited selection. The coffee was reasonably priced.

There was nothing close to the hotel if you wanted to venture outside at lunch.


All the necessities, two different shoe options, wig and hair stuff, the tshirt guy, etc… There was one table that remained cover until after all the other vendors had opened, and I was very happy to find they had not only Lucozade (an early memory from my Grandmother’s store in Ireland), but also Smarties. These came in very handy later in the day. Facebook followers probably know what I am talking about 🙂

A list of the vendors can be found here.

Feis Flow

Slow start, at least on the Champs stage, but I found out that was because there were Figures dances going on in the other room and they were waiting for those to finish before they ramped up on the champs stage. They probably started 20 – 30 minutes after scheduled start.

Once they got going though, they kept things moving, made announcements on what was coming next, made announcements when people were missing, giving them a chance to get there, etc… Remember, this is on the champs stage. I cannot speak to how the flow was in the Grades room.

Awards and Results


Results for grades were posted along the two walls towards the back of the Awards/Results room. You would need to go back and check, and could get your awards at the table near the door on the way out. They had place holders for each comp until the results were posted, and had placeholders for Champ results on the walls, but I never saw them replaced with any actual results. Champ results were announced like I am used too.

One thing I did notice was that names and numbers were on the results for Grades. I am not a fan of that necessarily, check out my safety posts for my reasons.

This is where I usually say how fast the results were announced, but I do not know how long it actually took as they took a lunch break and announced them right after lunch. So, they could have been 30 minutes, or it could have been closer to 105 minutes, not really sure. If it was closer to 30 when they were ready (even though we did not know), that was great. If it was the other extreme, that is average to meh.

For Champs, they called out the top half of each comp who placed, much like I am used to. There was no individual rounds results, instead they went right to the placers, starting highest to lowest. I find this VERY NERVE-WRACKING, especially since individual rounds were not announced to give ‘a clue’ of the potential results. With each name called, you are both happy and concerned, not hearing your dancers name, because they either placed higher, or not at all 😉 If you follow me on Facebook, you probably know how TGC did.

There was a 3-tier podium, always a nice touch.


In case I don’t get a separate Grades review, I saw the medals for grades level events and they looked nice, but I was not able to see one up close. I did notice they gave just the medal, and no ribbon for the dancers to be able to wear them. Points off in my opinion there 🙁

For Champs, there were some nice crystal awards, BUT NO SASHES! SASHES, YES WE NEED STINKIN’ SASHES.

IMHO, sashes is THE appropriate award for top placers, at least the top 3. Other things are nice, but a sash is ‘the’ sign of success.

I am also used to champ level dancers being able to pick up their results at awards, which did not happen here. Not sure if this is the norm in the Southern Region, just not what we were used to.

Misc/Social Media

No real social media effort that I saw, but to be honest, I did not look.

Feis Na Tara, Champs 2015 Overall Score – 8.25+

From a champs perspective, I think this was a pretty well run feis with a few nits, that may be regional. Still say they need Sashes, but maybe that is just me. If I had to score the entire feis, including Grades, I don’t think it would have faired as well.

What Did Y’All Think? (see what I did there? 😉 )

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Feis ATL 2014 Review

feisATLFeis ATL was held November 14th and 15th of 2014, at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. This was a Drake feis, which means fun, fabulous, chaotic, and crowded. The feis offered competitions in musical instruments, vocals, Celtic art work, baking, traditional and non traditional sets, treble reels, and a Dancer of the Day award, in addition to the regular feis competition schedule.

In the tradition of fun and fabulous, this feis offered some unexpected surprises. Friday night, there was a casual Irish music session in the registration hall. On Saturday, the FROZEN princesses made appearances and lead a pre awards show sing-a-long. On Saturday night, they held a post feis luau at the hotel pool for feis attendees.


This was a hotel feis. As most readers know, I am not a fan of the hotel feis. This location is no exception to that dislike. Although the building did receive the vomitus mass of people attending the feis, it did nothing to organize them. The hotel is currently undergoing renovations. So, it was challenging to attend. From parking to conference room location, the construction chaos only added to the usual feis chaos. The hotel did have helpful staff, when you could find them. The bathrooms were kept clean and were not overcrowded. The hallways were large and spacious throughout. This allowed for movement between stages, even with any available wall space being crowded with bags, personal items, small siblings, etc. Camping, as it is known in the Mid America and other regions, does not take place in the majority of Southern Region feisanna. The feis did an excellent job marking the awards room and decorating the registration booth. At least those spaces were the easiest for us to find.

5 out of 10


Welcome to downtown Atlanta! Parking is plentiful and expensive. If you did not mind a chilly 6 block walk, you could park for $3 a day. To park at the feis, it was $12 a day. The feis did offer attendees a special parking rate. If you forgot to mention you were there for the feis, it was a whopping $28 per day. Also, the parking deck at the hotel filled quickly. Some people were upset to learn of there being no elevator to the highest deck level. Can you imagine lugging all that gear down the steps to the nearest elevator for a luggage cart? We can’t either. So, we suggest an earlier arrival next year, for a prime parking deck location. In a perfect world, out of town arrival to Atlanta should take place between 10 am and 2:30pm EST. Also, avoid the 75/85 merge at all costs.

5 out of 10


Why so high? The accordion, that’s why. Every stage, we watched, had a blessed, talented, accordionist playing accompaniment. Was there music carry over? Very little. The stages were so spaced out, you only heard the other stages music if you were close to a doorway.

10 out of 10

Feis Food

The hotel cafe was close to $4 for a cup of coffee. When the feis had the hotel set up coffee in the vendor hall, it was $2 a cup. Any feis where Ash Wilkes can get his feis coffee is a good one. Of course, the remainder of the hotel cafe options were Disney FROZEN expensive. $5 for a parfait. $3.50 for a frozen pizza sized slice of pizza. $9 for chicken fingers and fries. It was a very chilly walk for anyone to find outside options. A sub shop was close by. Many families sent Feis Dads out on sub runs.

4 out of 10


The feis had a good selection of vendors. The down side was that they did not stay open through the conclusion of the feis. So, if you wanted to buy a t-shirt or sock glue after the awards ceremony, too bad. They had closed up shop hours before hand. Also, no Cadbury bars. Sniff. Sniff.

  • Züca sales
  • Wigs
  • Shoes/socks
  • Feis shirts
  • Jewelry
  • Irish, Celtic, and Feis themed items
  • Photo crystal dancers gifts/Speakers

6 out of 10


Heard of being on Southern time? This feis ran on Southern Irish Feis Time. So. Hope everyone was able to find the punch in the lobby, because you had a wait on your hands. From the time of competition to the time of results posting was an hour or more in most cases. The average we worked out was 45 minutes. The results were quick to post at the start of the day, but really lagged as the day went on. We saw dancers camped under their results papers for them to post, so that they could go home. See also Feis Flow.

3 out of 10


This was a Drake feis, remember? The fabulous part certainly comes in at the awards. No dinky trinkets here. Medals, with neck ribbons were awarded to all grades with a posted result. So, even if your little prince or princess won 5th out of 15, they went home with a medal around their neck. Prizewinner, and above, received trophies. The star with the Feis ATL logo decorated most of them. Again, even with a 5th place out of 15 in traditional set, the dancer went home with a trophy. Championship competitions had recalls posted. Their awards were given at a ceremony, after the feis competitions ended. Everyone on stage received a trophy. First place Open Champs recived a sash, Olaf stuffie, trophy, and a CHAMPION emblazoned scarf. Some second and third place winners were also given the CHAMPION scarves. Only Open Champs received the sashes for first place. The awards ceremony was a great lead up to the Southern Region Oireachtas. Sound system, projection screen, podium with five placements, music, ambient lighting, and pre show FROZEN sing along. (Alright, so the last part was at least fun for the kids who were waiting…now, let it go.) of course, the awards ceremony did not finish until 8pm. But, like I said, it was a great lead up to the Southern Region Oireachtas. Midnight award ceremony conclusions, anyone?

10 out of 10


This is one area of the feis where many people were displeased. Three of our four little darlings had ZERO judge rotation. That’s right. The same judge for every. single. dance. In one case, it worked to their advantage. In the other two cases, it did not. Our youngest darling had some judge rotation. One judge for two dances, then a different judge/different stage for the other two dances. At a perfect feis, there would be a different judge for each dance. The opposite was true at this feis. With over 850 competitors, there was an enormous push for speed on the stages. They did everything but add a conveyor belt to the stage floor. See also Feis Flow.

3 out of 10

Feis Flow

They billed this feis as the FROZEN feis. Considering the weather, and the open exterior doors in the vendors area, we think they succeeded in making everyone FROZEN on Friday night. Thankfully, they also had a warm Irish music session occurring away from the open exterior doors by registration. With more than 850 competitors, along with their various friends and relations, the body heat generated helped to warm the competition halls on Saturday. Keeping the exterior doors closed helped, too.

The feis volunteers were working hard from 7am until 9pm on feis day. That being said, it appeared to be the same 20 or so people the entire day. Stages were only marked by the stage side podium. That information was not up until almost 8am. Of course, if you bought the unadvertised on eFeis $5 feis book, a map was included. The stages were also at one end of cavernous conference halls. Most of them were set up long ways, so that there were plenty of chairs. But only the first ten rows of people could see anything. Also, some of the stage rooms were extremely crowded. The preliminary championship stage was overrun with dancers, friends, and relations until after 2pm. The stages that ran quickly were “rewarded” by having more competitions shifted over to them. This movement created flow mayhem, as dancers and their entourage were scrambling to find the new stage location and seats for the competitions. The awards ceremony for the championship dancers occurred after the final competition ended for the day. The ceremony was a bit chaotic, as many of the later competition recall lists were posted in the middle of the ceremony.

When the feis completed on Saturday night, there was a luau for feis attendees at the hotel pool. Snacks, finger foods, and a cash bar made for an excellent end to a busy feis day.

5 out of 10

Overall Score: 6 out of 10

What Did Y’all Think?

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Peach State Feis Review 2014

psfThe Peach State Feis was held May 2-3, 2014, in Atlanta, Georgia.  The feis was held at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North.  This is the same location as last year.  The feis is run by Peach State Feis Inc.  Truly, this is a feis of the Drake School.  Their Southern Region feisanna, typically, are run under the supervision of the talented and famous Karl Drake.  New this year, is the inclusion of a Feis Fiesta, held after the Friday evening competitions.  This feis has no competitor cap.  It also includes many competitions for all ages and abilities.  From the Gaelic language, Celtic Art, and music competitions to their treble reels and traditional set competitions, this is a feis that promises to hold something for everyone.

Venue: 4 out of 10

This is a hotel feis.  By definition, hotel feisanna are spread out over several, tightly packed rooms, reached by traversing crowded, noisy hallways, and end with overworked volunteers in a poorly lit awards room or area.  The Peach State Feis is no exception.  It also could be called the Southern Sardine Feis.  You will feel as though you had been inside a sardine can, by the end of the feis.  The hotel is still undergoing construction.  There were no bathrooms on the feis level floor at all.  Everyone had to walk upstairs to use the restroom.  At registration Friday evening, the halls smelled like a summer camp cabin. Fortunately, the smells of dance bags, hair spray, sweat, and Mexican food soon over powered it.  The volunteers really did all they could to answer questions, guide parents, and corral dancers.  The grade level halls were noisy and crowded.  The stage was about 2 inches off of the floor.  There was room to walk.  Barely.  The feis awards room was at the end of the main hallway.  All the vendors were accessible on the main hallway.  The champs room was much quieter.  It was also very well lit, with a raised stage.  It should be noted that was no room to practice or stretch.

Vendors:  8 out of 10

Two of the vendors scheduled for the feis did not arrive.  Otherwise, it would have been a 10 out of 10.  The Drake School feisanna usually have a wide variety of excellent vendors.  This year, they included:

  • Specialized t shirts
  • Portable Speakers
  • Shoe and poodle sock vendor
  • Ireland/Celtic/Feis themed items
  • Celtic Fine Jewelry
  • Free Physical Therapy and Injury Evaluations
  • Wig and Hair Bobs
  • Crystal photographs

Food:  6 out of 10

Hotel concessions were available.  Bagels with cream cheese were $2.  The food was fine for a hotel feis.  There was also a restaurant and Starbucks down the hall.  The Starbucks prices were a bit higher than home.  $3.50 for a large iced, flavored coffee or a large regular cup of coffee.  If coffee is easily available, the Ash Wilkes is quite pleased.  Thus, the reason for the high food rating.  He enjoyed his coffee and stayed pleasant the entire feis.

Music:  8 out of 10

Accordions!  How thankful I was to hear those blessed accordions at all the stages.  Even with the din of the halls, you could hear the music.  The speakers were well above the heads of all the dancers.  The first few rounds of Advanced Beg, the musician started the music a bit roughly.  As the number progressed, the beginning of the dances became a smoother transition.  Having the counter on stage saved several people from timing errors, in my observation. With there being accordions at the feis, there was occasionally some musical carry over between the rooms.  Since the feis was a crowded, noisy one, this was only noticed rarely, and more often in the afternoon.

Parking: 5 out of 10

With there being no competitor cap, there is no telling how many people will be attending the feis.  No telling how many cars.  Also, since the event is held at a hotel, these same people will be looking for cars in a parking lot with other hotel guests.  I am sure you can see where this is going.  Parking was made more of a challenge with the hotel construction detours.

My personal recommendation is to arrive between 3 and 4:30pm on Friday night.  Be prepared to keep your car in your parking spot until your family is finished at this feis.  Easier said than done, I understand.  It is something to consider for next year.

Judges: 6 out of 10

Judges were kept at the same table for the morning grades.  The dancers were rotated.  There were 3 stages in the grades room.  1 stage in the champ room.  Depending on the number of grade level dances, the dancer may have danced for 3 different judges, or, they may have danced for 1 judge 3 times and the other judges only 1 time.  My personal preference is for a different judge for each dance competed.  This feis was more of a statistical probability game with judging.  It all depended on the number of dances, the rotation of the stage, and where each fell in the operation of the schedule.  The same rotation and judges were in place for the afternoon grade competition for Novice.  They were changed completely for the Prizewinner competitions.  One judge left before the end of Prizewinner competitions.  This complicated the remainder of the competitions for those 3 stages, leaving 2 judges for the room. (See also Feis Flow)

Results: 7 out of 10

Results were posted roughly 15-30 minutes after the completion of the dance.  A wide estimation range, I know.  Some dances were posted quickly.  Some dances did not post results for quite awhile.  It should be understood that the extreme crowding of the halls and hallways effected the runners ability to relay the scores to the tabulation room.  The medals were a change from last year.  This year, they were palm sized, embossed and enameled peaches, with the feis name and logo.  There were gold, silver, and bronze.  All other placements were copper colored and embossed, without the enamel.  Trophies were awarded for all traditional set placements, in addition to Prizewinner and Up.  Champions received various crystal gifts, trophies, sashes, and perpetual trophies, depending on their competition level, age, and placement.

Feis Flow: 7 out of 10

Some changes were made from last years schedule.  The Friday evening figure, language, music, and vocal competitions were held on the large ballroom stages.  They were followed by the Feis Fiesta party.  The evening competitions began almost 30 minutes late, which of course pushed the figures late.  The charity treble reel, at the Feis Fiesta, was postponed until the figures completed.  Of course, many of us now that the Drake School knows how to throw a great party.  The Feis Fiesta was a huge success, with money raised for the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta.  Piñatas ended the party.

The following morning, the grades schedule progressed very smoothly.  The feis started on time.  Lunch break occurred on schedule, at 12:10pm.  The stages resumed, for grades, close to 45 minutes later.  The rooms were both quieter and less crowded in the afternoon.  Towards the end of the day, a judge leaving early affected the schedule.  The final prizewinner and treble reel schedules went from three to two stages. The bathrooms being upstairs created delays, during what are usually short breaks for the judges.

Overall Feis Rating: 6 out of 10

What say you?

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