The 3rd annual Cowboy State Feis, hosted by the Richens/Timm Academy of Irish dance in Wyoming, was held in Casper, Wyoming, August 22-23, 2014. This year, the feis was held at Cy Middle School, the 3rd different location in 3 years.
The school had ample parking beside the school. The entire competition (which typically has a small competitor pool,) was contained within two hallways and an outdoor courtyard. There were 2 stage areas: a Commons area that featured a built-in raised stage (used for championship dances,) and the gym down the side hall. The Commons area had plenty of seating for observers. The gym had a single dance floor divided by a tape line into 3 rather small stages. This was used for open dances and some of the Prelims. I saw no designated camping area in the facility. Access to the gym was sometimes affected by folks looking at the solo dresses for sale which was right inside the main entrance to the gym. A courtyard off the front hallway had the podium where championship awards were presented.
There was an adequate number of judges for the competition, and it appeared that they rotated sufficiently from stage to stage. Dancers being assigned to various stages helped rotation. 9/10
2 very competent musicians, one for each staging area. No noise interference and sound systems were sufficient.
Friday evening, there were some snacks at a booth in the gym. Saturday the vendor was at a larger space in the front hallway … had snacks, pop, coffee, water. I heard that there were slices of pizza during the lunch break. Coolers and outside food were not prohibited. The school had vending machines that had bottled water (only!)
Where were they this year? In addition to the snack table, I remember seeing only one guy selling Irish knick-knacks. 2/10
Posted on walls of hallway just past gym … convenient. Results were pretty quickly. Medals were given out at a separate nearby spot (No waiting for others to get their awards before your dancer could even see her results!) There was some serious confusion in announcing results for the specials in the gym. The volunteers did not let the dancers/families know just when the results would be awarded (during lunch? at end of lunch? after lunch?) When results were awarded, the volunteer did not use the sound system–Hard to hear.
The schedule was well-planned, and flow at this feis is always excellent. (Having a small competitor pool truly helps this!) Started on time, stayed on time. With only one staging area for all of the open dances, it was easy to track what was going on.
- Feis volunteers all had shirts with “Ask Me” written on back … easy to identify.
- Top 3 winners in each of the Special dances get designer cowboy hats. This year, they were dyed green. Fun. (Also fun that the judges in gym all sported the green hats on Saturday afternoon.)
- Judges chairs (which looked really comfy) were roped off from audience. (It always concerns me when folks walking behind the judges are nearly bumping into them, often due to young dancers sitting watching the dancers on stage.)
- The area designated for selling solo dresses was woefully inadequate. In addition to being just inside the gym door, there was only one rack provided; additional dresses ended up being piled on a table, even after some were hung along the wall.
And I must include in this report our favorite Feistaurant in Casper: Sanford’s Grub N Pub, on Wyoming Blvd. Bring your camera to capture the 20 foot high Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck statues that are out front, as well as the old cars set as sculptures in rock gardens. An antique set of gas pumps out front leads you to the kitschy nostalgia diner décor inside. The bar menu is extensive, the dinner menu diverse. Prices are a bit steep, but the portions are huge. Service has been a bit slow at times. The kids won’t let us eat anyplace else on Friday night.
Overall, the Cowboy State Feis is a well-run competition, a treat to attend. Come a week early and drive to Mt Rushmore (5 hours east) or Yellowstone NP (6 hours west) and top it off with friendly feisin’ in Casper.
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