The 11th Annual Chicago Autumn Feis was held on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at the North Central College in Naperville, IL. This is the second time I have attended this feis, the last when it was held back to back with the Prairie State Feis at Ho-Chunk back in 2011. I liked that venue better ;)
The feis was held in the indoor track of North Central College and it could be great venue if there weren’t 9 gazillion people at the feis. Very crowded with inadequate camping is the best way to describe it.
8 stages surrounded the outer walls of the huge room. Stages 1 – 4 and 7 were for Teams and First Feis through Prizewinner, and 5, 6 and 8 were for Champ dances. All the stages seemed to be 24 x 20 or larger, but it was hard to tell on some because they were covered with the black material that is becoming more popular at feiseanna. The black covered ones ‘I think’ were all PC/OC stages and were a bit bigger.
Stages were separated nicely and seemed to have good space between them. (Someone remind me to start getting stage pics will ya, that might be helpful).
I saw no slips or falls and I saw mopping going on on at least Stage 7 at lunch time.
Seating was in chairs with additional seating on metal bleachers set up behind the chairs, and seemed to be adequate, at least for the stage we were at. There was a LOT of standing all around the venue so I may be wrong on the amount of seating, or people were just tired of sitting.
RANT – Whoever decided it was a good idea to fill the front row of seats at stage 8 with their gear, and only occupy no more than half the chairs, and typically only one or two, throughout the day, you were wrong, not a good idea and actually kind of rude. There are plenty of people who did not need to be navigating those thin bleacher steps who were much better suited for using those front row seats more than your stuff. Sorry, but if you aren’t going to use the chairs, move your crap. – END RANT
Camping was very limited and although I like good vendors (and this feis had good vendors), they took up entirely too much room in the center of the hall. I think if this feis returns to this venue, that needs to be thought out a bit better, less space between vendors and more camping.
Parking, eeeessh, don’t get me started. We dropped off and parked about 1/2 mile from the venue. Could be, in fact 97% sure it is, the worst feis parking I have seen.
Since we are in PC (see how I said we… OK, OK, TGC is PC now) and are judged differently, I did not notice the Judge rotation, in fact, that is not the only thing that I was not as attentive to, and this may be the beginning a ‘feis review transition learning curve’ now that TGC is in the ‘big time’ ;)
There were 16 judges scheduled at the feis, and if there were 9 taken up by the 3 PC/OC stages, that would have left 7 for the remaining 5 stages. There were enough to rotate, and I did see at least 1 judge change on the stage we were on, but I did not notice if all three changed or just one.
Anyone notice the judge rotation and if so, would you mind sharing in the comments?
Every stage had their own, always a plus, and I heard no complaints about musical confusion (aka bleed over), but it was really loud in some areas so I am not sure how it was for the dancers.
A local company catered the event and they had a nice variety of items at reasonable prices. Salads, sandwiches, pop corn, nachos, fruit cups, hotdogs etc… all less than $5. They did seem to run out of sandwiches pretty quick though.
They had a real nice assortment of vendors at this feis, but my buddy George was not there. Shoes and wigs of course, and lots of knits and ceramics, sweatshirts and other items, and I was able to buy and share with my family Smarties, aka Irish M&Ms that I first had from my GrandMums shop on Achill Island in Ireland (insert lovely flashback to the lighthearted days of youth music). Short of the Michigan Irish Music Fest or the Dublin Irish Festival that have coinciding feiseanna, this was one of the better Irish swag collections. They had feis tshirts stuck off in a corner, so hidden I almost missed it, and I thought their prices were a bit high, $50 for a hoodie with a sticker on it? Come on…
Results & Awards
Results and awards were at the far end of the venue, right next to each other so they were convenient. Although I was not frantically checking the results wall like in every previous feis I have been to, I tried to make a point of gauging how soon results were being posted, and if I had to guesstimate, I would say it was in the 30 minute range, so not spectacular.
This was also my first experience with the PC award process. I thought that was a bit ‘tedious’ for our first time out, and it was about 2.5 hours from the end of the dancing till the announcing of the standings. There was a lunch in there and there were A LOT of dancers in the comp (if you follow me on Facebook, I posted on Saturday that there was about 150 dancers in the comp… I was j/k, it just seemed that way). I really have no prior experience to compare this too so I guess time will tell.
Once again, feedback from other attendees on either of these points appreciated.
We got there early because I am really anal about not being late, and TGC wanted to be ready for anything. She did not dance till after 11 so there was a lot of ‘killing-time’ in the interim. The stage she was on kept a good pace though, and even with all the dancers in her comp, she was done dancing in about an hour.
Looking at the schedule for other stages, I would guess that there are probably a variety of opinions on the flow. Some stages had comps with only had 2 or 3 dances between individual dances, and some had 7 to 10 dances between. It seems like some of the other dance Moms I spoke with throughout the day were there for a long time, and there was one or two that were done right around lunch time. I did not however hear any grumbling from anyone.
Here is where I usually do all that math, but for this feis, I felt so distracted with everything around our recent status change, I did not catch as many details as I would have liked. If I had to summarize, the parking, limited camping and the crowdedness, were the negatives, but it was not a bad feiseanna. If I had to give it a score, for you number crunchers out there, I would say a solid 7.
Parking did stink esp when you have an 8:30 am start like we did, but the silver lining is to park toward downtown and then you can walk around town. This is my old hood as I graduated from Benedictine U. down the street…but Naperville has taken a nice downtown to a wholenew level! It is an amazing downtown complete with Irish pub and tchotchke shop too! So we were about 5 minute walk from venue, but a block from Quigley’s post feis lunch (reuben rolls make the trip). Wish I had the day to peruse more! Flow of feis was good for the 308 dances, results take a while. But this venue last year was the source of my daughter’s first medal and placing ever, after waiting an hour and a half for result, so good things come to those who wait!
Agree completely about downtown. Last time we were in Naperville, as we drove through it on the way to the ER, my wife and both commented what a nice little town it appeared to be, but needless to say that trip was cut short a little ;) We spent hours downtown after the feis on Saturday. Hit Quigleys first (thanks again for the recommendation) and then walked around and did some shopping, topped off by a trip to that chocolate store and coffee shop. That is a town worthy of a day trip by itself, and was a nice ending to a pretty good day :)
Your review is helpful for us who live outside the Midwest area. The Feisanna we have attended so far are in Arizona and California. All of them are held in hotel ballrooms. I can’t imagine being in a gym etc. It looks chaotic. We are hoping someday to attend a feis or to in the Midwest, perhaps to MO or IL. And for any of you in the Midwest looking to come out West this Winter, consider attending Feis in the Desert. http://www.brackenirishdance.com/fitd
Registration is open at feisworx.com. Come on out and enjoy the sun, we would love to see you there.
I would love to get to AZ! In fact, I am taking donations to get TGC and I out there for your feis. Checks can be made payable to…. ;)
Your feis conflicts with back to backs in Wisconsin. Let me see, WI in January or AZ. I will need to think about it. j/k
Actually I would love to experience feiseanna everywhere if we could. I had a reader from Australia comment that theirs were different too.
Grades judge rotation was very good, I thought. My daughter did 6 dances (all in the same grade level) and was judged by 4 different adjudicators. That’s the best judge rotation I’ve seen at a feis run by grade.
Results were on the slow side — I think we waited 20-30 minutes for the last set of results to be up. This was our 3rd year at this feis and it’s been like that every year.
Thanks Ginger. That is really helpful! Mind if I ask what stage you were on or about how much time you had between dances? Just trying to judge how often they rotated.
We were on stage 4. My daughter had 2-3 dances in between her dances, so the judges were rotating every 6-8 dances. At one point we did have to wait 5-10 minutes for a judge, but I’ll take that over having the same judge for all 6 dances like we’ve had at other feisanna.
Stage 2 ran way behind all day My daughter danced novice except for SPD at advanced beginner and treble jig at Open – we were there all day!! Longest feis to date for us. The stage was behind already at 9am when we arrived. Then after a long day of dancing we had to wait quite a while for last results. We didn’t leave until 5pm. On the bright side we stopped at Penzey’s and I got some Christmas shopping done!