The 12th Annual Chicago Autumn Feis was held on Sunday, November 9, 2014 at North Central College in Naperville IL .
I can’t speak to PC/OC level, nor did our school have any at that level here due to Oirachtas practice.
Aside from streets being blocked due to a marathon, it was easy enough to get to the field house at North Central College. The parking was limited, but there was a shuttle that was much appreciated to take us from the lot to the field house. Unfortunately, the shuttle stopped transporting before my Prizewinner dancer finished dancing. The facility was clean initially, and restrooms seemed to be kept up. I didn’t see any cleaning of the floors throughout the day, possibly because there was no floor space open because of the crowding. Camping was supposed to be done on the balcony level, but few people did this and it was not enforced. The competition area was very crowded and it was difficult to move from one stage to another to watch other dancers on their respective stages. There was ample seating set up, however, dancers had strewn their belongings in seats and across bleachers, taking away from the available seating. Maybe not the best venue for 1,200 dancers and their families.
I give it a 7.
There were 12 judges and 8 stages. Judges seemed to rotate about every hour. I noticed on the score board that beginner levels were placing up to 7th or 8th place, and many of the novice and Prizewinner often only placed 1st through 3rd. This seemed unusual.
My dancers didn’t say they couldn’t hear the music well enough and all sets seemed to be played at the right speeds.
There were few choices for food by one vendor. The $5 hotdogs and snack sized chip bags I found to be pricey. They had a fruit bowl available and maybe two other choices of meal deals and plenty of junk food. There was no mention of not being allowed to bring in outside food and drink.
There was a large selection and variety of vendors. Some that were not the usuals.
Here’s where it goes downhill. I was told morning results were posted within 45 minutes. One of my dancers waited an hour and a half for her results. Results were typed but in a font that was difficult to read from the other side of the results tables and included dancer name and number. There were no online results available, in fact, they will not be available until “sometime the week after the Feis”. They ran out of 3rd place medals and offered smaller medals that they were giving to 4-8th place. You could also opt to have them mail a silver medal when they get more made.
On the stage schedule it stated that Novice dances would start approximately 9:30. It was around 10:45. The Prizewinner dances were scheduled to start at 1:00. Beginner levels typically had 1 dance in between dances. Novice and PW dancers had 2-3 dances in between dances. Soft shoe competitions were first. Lunch break was 1/2 hour and the judges and musicians were great about getting started on time after lunch, and was staggered a little so there wasn’t a mad rush at the food vendor.While one stage did, the others still had up to as many as two complete dances left to get through, with sections of A and B and boys or mixed. This was truly the Feis that never ended! At 5:00 they finally did the last treble reel, and they still had non-traditional sets going after this was completed. All said, it didn’t flow quickly and made for a miserable afternoon/evening for many dancers and their families. I heard many complaints from tired dancers and irritated parents, while I waited at the results table with my dancer.
I can’t speak for the Feis hotel or hotels in the area, but Naperville seemed like a quaint little town with several options for restaurants.
EDITORS NOTE: She is right, it is and does. Here are a few places I found when I was there last year: http://whatthefeis.com/naperville-il-eats/