American Pride Feis 2015 PC/OC Review

4-231x300Feis Info

The 3rd Annual American Pride Feis was held Saturday, September 12th, 2015, at the Franklin Field House in Franklin, Tennessee. This review covers some of the general info, but is slated more for the PC/OC levels since that is where we spent most of our time.


Afraid I didn’t make it to this feis last year when it was held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort Convention Center, but the grumbling in the crowd indicated to me that the Franklin Field House was not quite on the same par as the Gaylord.

There were 5 stages, 1 – 4 for the Grades (as far as I can tell, although it makes sense to me that some of the PCs/OCs ‘might’ also could have been on those stages). We were on 5 during our dances. The large venue was split into sections by sliding partitions so there was some separation between the stages, so to speak, and 2 of the stages were in an area, 2 in an adjoining area, and the PC/OC stage in a third area.

Stages 1 – 4 were plywood, and a reasonable size, looked to be about 20′ x 24′, BUT, they were attached along one side so really stages 1 & 2, and 3 & 4 were both just big stages cut in half with tape. Due to their proximity, the combined stages shared a single musician, so there were only 3 in the entire venue, more on that later. Please note, the 20 x 24 was the size of the stage after being cut in half by the tape.

Stage 5 was a pretty good size, about 32′ x 24′ and was textured. Not sure if it was paint (looked to be), but I heard no complaints about the stage from my, or any other dancers. In fact, this is the first feis I remember in a while where I saw no slips or falls. Not saying they did not happen, just that I did not see any. (now that that has come out of my mouth, it seems highly unlikely none happened).

SIDE NOTE: All stages, as in years past, were named after a branch of the armed forces. Why the PC/OC stage was not named after Navy is beyond me, and I will try not to let it affect my review.  😉

The practice stage, wait, the 6 individual pieces of plywood that served as the practice area, probably could have been handled better. At least they provided a hard surface for the dancers to practice, considering the remainder of the flooring was either like basketball flooring where no hard shoes were allowed, or artificial turf, not the best dance surface.

Results and awards, and the PC/OC podium was in yet another area, separated from the stage areas by a netting, you know, the kind that keeps soccer balls from being kicked into the spectator seats in an indoor arena, which this kind of was. Results were posted on the wall which was right next to where awards could be picked up, very convenient.

The size and layout of the venue allowed for adequate camping, and the Southern Region seems more tolerant of camping in spectator seats, although we never had an issue finding a place to sit.

The concessions and vendors were setup in another open area near the concession stand and front door.

The venue was really large, but easily navigated

Parking was plentiful but may have involved a bit of a walk depending on when you arrived. There was a way to pull right up to the front to drop off dancers and gear though. No charge for the parking, always nice.

The only issue I had with the venue was the climate. They really did not get a handle on that till closer to 10am, and it was VERY warm up until that point. Hopefully noted for next year.


PC/OC  always has 3 judges monitoring the performance. The judges seemed attentive on our stage and took no breaks that I saw, and the same three were there for at least the first half of the day.

There were only seven judges invited, so with 3 at stage 5, and one each on 1 – 4, I am not sure how much rotation was done by judges on the grades level. You should know by now I am a big fan of grades level judge frequent rotation.


Stage 5 had its own musician, Stages 1 & 2, and Stages 3 & 4 each shared a musician. Not a fan of that. It inevitably causes delays somewhere, and I did see some times when not all stages were active due to unbalanced stage assignments.


Standard concession fare, pizza, pretzels, hotdogs, soda, granola bars, water etc…. I thought the prices were a little high, but not terrible.


Tshirt people were there, and the standard accessories tables, but the vendors seemed VERY limited to me. No larger shoe vendors (that I recognized), no ‘fun’ Irish swag, and no Irish M&Ms…. 🙁


Really cant speak to how the Grades level results went. Sorry.

PC/OC were fairly smooth however. The stage monitor announced when awards would be, and there was also a board over in the awards area that listed the time. For us, it showed up about 20 minutes before it happened, which was great. Sometimes a feis will post the notice only a few minutes before, and it is not enough time to find everyone, get the dress on, and get to the awards.

I have commented on other feiseanna that I would like to see them announce the top three in each round, instead of just 1st. At this feis, they did that one better, they announced the top half in each shoe and in the set.

Anyway, between the end of the dancing and the announcement was about 75 minutes, which is probably a bit better than average, so no complaints. We were pretty much done before lunch with everything, so really I had no complaints.

Feis Flow

The comp was medium sized, between 15 and 20, and they were done dancing all 3 rounds in just over an hour. The stage monitor kept things moving after the champ stage finally got moving. Casual observation showed they had a hard time getting the stage started and that stage did not start till after 9 a.m.


Other than the building climate issue, and the late start, and the individual practice areas, none of which really seem to impact us very much, well there was some sweating, but I digress, I thought the feis was pretty good. I would give it a 8.25ish, not to shabby.

What Say You?

Take the poll below and if you have comments on what you thought about the feis, please add them below.

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American Pride Feis 2014 Review, Grades

4-231x300The American Pride Feis was held September 12 and 13, in Nashville, TN. The feis was located inside the Convention Center of the lovely Gaylord Opryland Resort. This feis was sponsored by the Tennessee Irish Dance Organization. The school behind the feis is the Southern Academy of Irish Dance. The feis offered multiple competitions, including baking, art, instrumental music, Tir Na Nog, First Feis, and charity treble reel competitions. This year’s charity treble reel proceeds went to the Navy Seal Foundation. (Go Navy!) This year’s feis was very well organized and well run. It may well become one of the top Southern Region feisanna to attend, much like Nation’s Capital and Rhythm of Ireland.

Venue: 10

Some of you may remember that I am NOT a fan of hotel feisanna. Thankfully, the Gaylord Opryland is a Hotel, Resort, and Convention Center. So, this feis actually falls under convention center feisanna. The convention center rooms are much like those of Union Station in St. Louis. Large, plenty of seating, room for camping, and room for walking. The only bottle necks occurred in the Awards Room. Please see Awards for further remarks.

The venue makes this feis an experience, not just a competition. It is large enough to handle an enormous influx of people. It is also a treat to visit. For those staying in the resort overnight, there are a number of things to do. In addition to practicing steps on the stages, which the feis volunteers had ready for use by 6pm – well done, again, Recruits – there are the gardens, the fountain show, arcade, indoor riverboat, shopping, restaurants, several pools, spa, and 24 hour fitness center.

We did not have a problem finding seats at any of our stages. There was also room for camping inside the feis halls. The Southern Region is not known for feis camping, so the room available seemed more than adequate. There were 5 vendors at the feis. A local photographer, Eagle Sports Shirts, wigs and hair doodahs, dance shoes and poodle socks, and portable speakers. The hallway outside of the feis halls was situated very well for the feis vendors and feis traffic.

Parking: 7

Since it is a large venue, parking is designed for a large number of cars. Think theme park sized parking solutions. So, parking is not fun. But, it is not impossible or a pain. Just not fun. For those so inclined, you can park at the Opry Mills Mall, and one other lot, for FREE. Free is good. The walk to and from the car may be more cost than some would prefer. Self parking at the resort is $20 per day, plus tax. Which is quite the jump from FREE. Or, you can pay $35, including tip, for valet. The Wilkes family checked ahead and budgeted for the self parking at the resort. We found it to be a reasonable solution for our family. If we had not known ahead of time, and budgeted, it would have been quite a shock.

Feis Flow: 5

They get an A for effort. The Recruits certainly did all they could to keep the feis running on schedule. The feis started on time. 7:55am with the presentation of the flags and singing of the anthems. The feis ended about 4:15pm. They were tearing down stages by 5pm. Between that time, it was an adventure. Stages 3 and 4 were stalled for over an hour because of champs and judge rotations. Stages 1 and 2 experienced stage schedule changes, due to that unplanned break. See also Results.

Judging: 4

Everyone of our little darlings had very little judge rotatiion. Or, the judges were rotated, but the dancers were also rotated. So, they were dancing for the same judge on a different stage. The ideal is a different judge for each dance. It did not happen at this feis.

Results: 5

Part of this score comes from the Awards room itself. More than one dancer missed a special because their awards were being announced for a championship, while their special was being loaded on the stage. The results time also depended on the stages. 1 and 2 posted in about 30 minutes from the dancing, before lunch 3 and 4 were between 10 and 20, before lunch. After lunch, it was catch-as-catch-can. Average wait time was 20 minutes from dance to posting. The results did go online very quickly. You could almost check your phone as quickly as the room. Which was nice, if there was a large awards ceremony ongoing, when you came to the door. The paper replacement system on the wall worked well. With lunch being pushed back, the stages were pushed back, which pushed the results back. See also Flow, which affected Results.

Awards: 6

Overall, the awards were well done. Sashes for champs placing in the top 3. Stuffed cups, bowls, and china plates for awards, in addition to trophies. Champs were awarded in the results rooms, with a red, white, and blue podium. Prizewinner and Champs received distinctive trophies for top 3 placements. The medals were roughly the size of the bottom of water bottle. This feis also included the medal ribbons, which was certainly appreciated by the younger set of dancers. Many grades dancers enjoyed the sound of clinking medals, as they walked.

Several families were met with confusion and delay in the awards room. There appeared to not be clear communication about who was to receive what award and for what competition. My suggestion would be to have a list by each distribution volunteer. Or, to have each award on the table clearly labeled. This does NOT have to be complicated. Feis ATL used Post Its last year. Simple, but effective. Also, 3 of the treble reels were to have been awarded on stage. But, the awards never made it out to the stages. So, they were picked up. Also, a couple of the competitions were labeled Trophy Specials in the syllabus. When it came time to pick up awards for those competitions, dancers found out it meant a trophy for 1st place and medal for 2nd and 3rd. Hopefully, these issues will be resolved in time for next year.

The Awards room was the only crowd causing problem area. Thankfully, that room also had multiple doors. So, just by going down one door, you were able to enter the room. You did still have to wait to get to the walls, depending on when you were in the awards room. The grades results were on walls in a corner, which created obvious problems. Who wants to be put into a corner, anyway?

Music: 10

Let’s sing the Doxology! It had to be a miracle! Every stage had a wonderful accordianist. Such joy, to hear the melodious sounds of the accordion from every stage. Was there music carry over? Yes. But only when one musician stopped playing, while the musician in the next room continued. When the music was resumed on that stage, there was no carry over at all. I did not see any musician related timing errors on either of the grades stages.

In addition, a local Irish pub provided the soloists for the anthems. It was wonderful to see the room in which the anthems were held come to a respectful stillness and silence. It was awe inspiring to hear the other feis halls become silent when the alto soloist sang our National Anthem.

Feis Food: 8

The food options were tremendous. If you could not find something to suit your taste, it is your own fault. The Wilkes family ate at STAX. The burgers were HUGE. Our little dancers split a combo meal very happily, with left overs. That turns into $6 per dancer. Considering the location, we found it to be very reasonable. Especially when I think back to paying $3 for a PRETZEL at Queen City. So, $12 for a meal large enough to split between our two youngest dancers was a feis meal deal. Ash Wilkes also had multiple options for his feis coffee. There was a pay per cup machine just done the hall from the main feis area. It was a very short walk for a fancier cup of coffee. In 7 minutes, he was able to walk to several cafe options for his coffee. So, while not inexpensive, the venue offered many options at several price points.

Overall Score: 7 out of 10

Did you go, what did you think?

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Memphis Feis 2014, PC/OC Review

The Memphis Feis was held on May 25th, 2014 at  Christian Brothers University’s De La Salle Canale Arena and Theater.

This feis is a Southern Region feis, and it was not what TGC and I were used to, not bad, in fact, in some ways better, but for any of you Mid America feisers who venture south, you may be in for a surprise. You may want to see the intro, and people who often feis in The SR can skip that part.


We got to the feis right about 830 and there were only about 30 cars in the parking lot. At start time, we are used to trying to find a parking spot any where close to the venue, so were surprised, and a little confused to see so few cars. But, we saw other people parking and heading in so we just went with the flow.

The campus was beautiful and it was less than a 2 minute walk from parking to the venue. The next part that was a bit surreal was that there were only about 100 people in the venue. Where were the hundreds, ney, thousands of people, dance bags and zucas? Realizing we were only seeing half of the stages, we went down the long hall to the auditorium, where the remaining stages were, that had to be were everyone else was, right? Nope, only another 50 people or so. What the…?

Other big difference was that there were no camping areas. Only option was to stow our gear in the viewers chairs, but there was lots of chairs, so we went with the flow. I can tell I went to Catholic school with nuns, what I was doing wasn’t wrong, but I still felt guilty 😉

The last difference I noticed was that there were no anthems played. Not sure if this is the norm in SR or not, but I have never (that I recall) been to a feis that did not play the anthems.


Christian Brothers campus is really nice. If we hadn’t had an 8 hour drive after the feis, I would have enjoyed the opportunity to walk around and see more of it.

Stages & Seating

There were 4 stages in two separate areas of the Canale center. Stages 1 & 2 were in the gymnasium for grades level dancers, and 3 & 4 were in the auditorium for PC/OC, and as I understand it, grades level later in the day, but we did not stay to see that.

Stages 1 & 2 were actually one big stage with portable dividing barriers down the center. It was hard to tell how big they were as the plywood was covered with that black flooring material. I have never been a fan stages that are literally attached, but since comps are smaller in SR, it did not seem to be to much of an issue. Seating for these stages were the gym bleachers that were set up on three sides of the stage, and seemed more than adequate for the number of people there.

Stages 3 & 4 were on the auditorium stage, also covered with the flooring material, and split down the middle with the movable barriers. For the PC/OC comps, the barriers were removed and the stage was a good size for the dancers. The seating was the auditorium chairs and there were plenty early in the day, but seemed to fill up later when OCs were winding down, and PCs were ramping up. This seating ‘issue’ was compounded because the feis held up awards for all PC/OC comps until they were all done.

Camping & Access

There was no camping, at least the type I am used to, so people used the viewers seating for stowing their gear. This was fine early in the day but as the morning progressed and more people arrived, it did start to get a bit congested in the auditorium. The gym seating ‘appeared’ to be adequate the entire time we were there.

Awards & Results Areas

Grade level awards were posted at one end of the gynasium on the second floor overlooking the stages. It was easily accessible from the gym.

Champ level dancers used the same stage they danced on in the auditorium for awards, and a podium (actually podium pieces) was brought in when it was time for the awards. Plenty of seating and fairly easy access for dancers to get to the stage when their name was called.


Parking was very plentiful, and free.

Venue Score: 9


As always, the PC/OC comps had three judges, with the same three for all the comps except one or two when a fourth judge gave one of the judges a break. They seemed very attentive and while I watched, gave equal attention to both dancers on stage.

Judge Score: 9.5


There was one musician for each set of stages and the separation between the two stage areas was sufficient to eliminate any musical confusion.

TGC did say that the musician on the auditorium stage was playing too slowly, and I had one parent make a comment about the quality of the music, although I did not get which area the musician they referred to was playing in.

Musician Score: 7.5


This venue only had a small college snack bar with pizza, hot dogs, wraps and a few other items. The food was not bad considering, and the prices were VERY reasonable. There was, as I understand it, an outrageous BBQ place within walking distance of the venue. I did not try any, but it smelled really good.

Food Score: 8


Very limited selection. Two ‘hair’ items vendors, but one also had shoes and other necessities. There was also the tshirt guy (it is never the same guy, but it is always the same guy, if you know what I mean).

Refeis That Dress was also at this feis. I had met the proprietor last year at the American Pride Feis. I thought the idea of a dress consignment was pretty cool, and was impressed to see that she now also offers dress rentals. That is, IMHO, a really good idea.

Unfortunately, the vendors where ‘vendors of necessity’ and not really ‘fun’ vendors. You shouldn’t even have to ask about the Irish M&Ms  🙁

Vendor Score: 6


Results for champs, as mentioned above used the stage in the auditorium. It was a nice presentation area and was up a bit higher so everyone could see well. If I could make any comment, it would be to maybe break after OC and do their awards, and then do PC when their comps are complete. This would allow OCs to head out sooner and reduce some of the auditorium congestion.

One of the judges read the results and went through all the OC and PC comps fairly quickly. The reading was a bit different, by which I mean they did not read the hard and soft shoe results before the overall for each comp like I am used to. This proved to be nerve-wracking, because when you know the individual dance results, you may have a gauge for the overall results. Needless to say, every number that was not TGCs when they were being read was both a relief and a new opportunity to stress until the next number was called.  😉

Results Score: 8.5

Feis Flow

This is where I think the biggest issue with the feis was. TGCs comp did not get started till 2 hours after its scheduled start time, and although they kept things moving, this two hour (and maybe a bit more) was never made up. Champ awards were supposed to be announced at lunch, and it as at least 2 before it actually happened.

Feis Flow: 7


Two part scoring with a Feis Score consisting of Judging, Music, Results and Flow, and then the overall consisting of everything.

Feis Score: 8.125

And the WTF Rating is 7.93… Not bad, and I think we would consider doing this feis again, but we would plan maybe an extra day.

EDITOR’s NOTE: There was a rumor that this may be the last Memphis Feis, but I can neither confirm nor deny said rumor.

Where You There? What Did You Think?

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American Pride Feis 2013

4-231x300The 1st Annual American Pride Feis was held on November 2, 2013 at the Embassy Suites Nashville – South/Cool Springs in Franklin, Tennessee.

Venue – From a hotel standpoint, it was great. For a feis venue, um, not so much, sorry. Not really a big fan of hotels as feis venues and this one was no exception.

The stages were in the big ballroom that had been divided into smaller rooms with partitions. Stage 1 was partitioned off by itself, Stages 2 & 3 shared a room as did 4 and 5 (someone fact check me on that one please, I really only peeked in and do not remember).

The stage sizes were not bad with the smaller ones (2 & 3) being about 20 x 20, 4 & 5 about 24 x 16, and 1 around 24 x 24. Stages 2 & 3 were combined for an actual area of 20 x 40ish with tape down the middle to divide them. Stages 4 & 5 may also have been combined (sorry, waited to long to write the review 🙁  ).

Stages 2 & 3 were used as one of the champ stages late morning so it provided a nice size stage for those comps.

Stage condition seemed good and I did not see any slips or falls. I do not recall any stage maintenance. (I really need to do these reviews right after the feis weekend or take better notes… jeez).

Seating for viewers was not adequate in my opinion, and the rooms were so tight, that standing off to the sides or in the back was very cramped, and only served to hinder traffic flow in the rooms. There was of course the issue with people camping in the viewing chairs, or should I say their stuff was camping, and one woman actually had a bit of a hissy fit when my family sat in ‘their chairs’ to watch the special at lunch time, even though they had not been in the room.

Side Note: Dear rude lady, there was no need to yank your coat off the chair from behind my wife. We are well mannered and gladly would have moved had you let us know we were in ‘your chairs.’

The hallways around the ballroom had the vendors, which inevitably cramped them all the more, and between those and support pillars in some areas, traffic congestion was bad, especially between the dance area and the results room which was around the corner.

Camping was not terrible, especially since the venue was also the feis hotel, but hallway camping is never sufficient, and there was really no area for personal chairs if you happened to bring them.

Parking, to be honest, I cannot comment on. We parked Friday night when we got to the hotel and did not leave the hotel until Saturday evening after the feis. If someone wants to weigh in on parking, feel free.

Venue Score: 5 –  Limited seating, cramped halls, conjoined stages, hotel feis, sorry, not a fan…

That however, is the only low feis score, and now for the highlights.

Judges – TGC had three dances and three judges. Can’t get any better.

Judge Score: 10

Musicians – Stage 2 & 3 shared a musician, 1 had its own musician, and I am assuming 4 & 5 shared one. Although I am not typically a fan of sharing musicians, I really did not see any issues with it on stages 2 & 3, and only twice did I witness a stage coming to a halt because of this. The partitions were sufficiently sound dampening so that bleed over was not an issue.

Musician Score: 8

Food – We did not eat any of the concession stand food but did buy canned sodas that were a bit pricey at $2 a piece. Can’t really rate this one sorry.

Food Score : NA

Vendors – Limited. George was there, and another shoe seller, wigs, tshirts and that was pretty much it. No fun Irish swag, just the feis necessities (feisessities?). There was a nice lady from Refeis That Dress, a solo dress consignment and rental service that I thought was a pretty nifty idea.

Vendor Score: 6

Results – The results and awards room was around the corner from the dance area (see note above about traffic flow, ugh), but that inconvenience does not take away from probably the best results turn-around I have seen. Out in hard copy on the wall in about 5 minutes for the ones I witnessed.

Awards were right next to the results wall, so it was very convenient. Plus, they had some unique trophies for 1st place Prizewinners.

Results Score: 10

Feis Flow – In general, I thought the feis flow was pretty good, but there was one incident that could have been handled a little better.

I noticed that the stages (well 2 & 3 anyway, I heard from a Mom that stage 1 dragged) were moving pretty quickly, and the schedule had a clear lunch break in dances on it. Well, at about 920 stage 3 posted check-in for one of the after lunch dances since they were moving so quickly. This really caused some confusion because 2 & 3 were slated to have champ dances on that combined stage before lunch, and for a while people, present company included, were in a panic because it really was not clear what was going on and dancers were not ready to compete if that checkin post was accurate. It took about 15 minutes to get it sorted out, but when they did, the rest of the day proceeded according to the original schedule and ran smoothly.

Feis Flow Score: 8


Two part scoring with a Feis Score consisting of Judging, Music, Results and Flow, and then the overall consisting of everything.

Feis Score: 9 – Extremely respectable for an inaugural feis.

Overall Score: 7.83 – A better venue and a bigger variety of vendors and that would be higher, but still WELL DONE American Pride!

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