The Detroit International Feis was held on June 7th, 2014 at the Ultimate Soccer Arena, in Pontiac, Michigan. I wrote a review for this feis last year, and with the exception of the date and one or two other items, I could pretty much copy and paste that here. I suggest reading that review as I am going to just annotate the differences here. It is good to see how things change.
Still love it. Probably one of my favorites. LOTS of room to literally run around if you want.
Stages & Seating
Stage setup was exactly like last year but this year since we were on one of the PC/OC stages I was able to figure out the stage size, which was 32 x 32. This feis, if I am not mistaken, has the biggest stages of any feis I have attended. Even the grades level stages are big at 24 x 32.
There was quite a bit of complaints from both parents and dancers about how slippery the stages were however. I heard from 3 separate parents on different stages as well as witnessed some of this myself. I did not see any falls, but there were lots of slips.
Contrary to last year, the feis team did not appear to be up on stage maintenance. CAVEAT – I left the building at lunch and cannot say if there was any mopping done then. Otherwise, I only saw one stage being swept. We took the precaution of using gaffers tape on TGC’s hard shoes, and we dampened her soft shoes with a wet towel before she danced and she did not seem to have any problems.
Seating was the same as last year, bleachers for stages 1 – 4 and lots of chairs for stage 6. I did not take note of how many chairs there were for stage 5, but there was plenty of room around the stage to set up your own chairs or blankets. Overall, seating was no problem.
Some people did complain that it was cold inside the venue, but I personally thought it was pleasant.
Camping & Access
Camping? Lots of it!, not all necessarily close to ‘your’ stage, but there was lots of room in the bleachers and if you were up to it, there was a ton of room where you could spread out behind stage 6.
Access did get a bit tight between the grades stages and the bleachers as people chose to stand in that area to view or have chats with their firends, but generally you could get through without too much issue.
Awards & Results
Grades results were posted on the far wall behind stage 6 as they were last year.
For PC/OC awards, the podium was set up in a far corner. Lots of room for viewers and dancers, and the distance from the stages didn’t cause any distraction for the stages. Great setup!
Seemed to be plenty but it filled up quick so you might have to park out in the boonies and hike in. They did provide a “shuttle” out to your car after the feis, but that didn’t help with your arrival necessarily.
The other thing they have done the past two years I have been to the feis was block off the circle up to the door. It would have been nice to have that for pickup and dropoff, especially for older spectators and others with mobility issues.
We had no problems with the judging. 3 judges for the stage we were on and they all seemed attentive. It was at this feis last year where I mentioned the ‘distracted’ judge after having seen him judge at one other feis. I think he is the one that got me started watching judge actions a bit closer. This feis though, no issues.
Each stage had their own musician and from where we were sitting, I could not hear music from the other side of the room, so distraction was not an issue, at least on the far side of the venue. I cannot speak to the Grades levels where the stages where closer together.
There was one musician there that I heard playing, and admittedly I don’t dance, but I thought the tempo was off as he played. I did not hear any complaints at this feis, but I have heard issues with this particular musician in the past. This time I heard it for myself.
OK, here is what many consider THE issue for this feis. On the feis website it states quite clearly:
- NO COOLERS are allowed inside the facility, there is plenty of reasonably priced food available in the venue
Last year the setup was much better, with two concessions. This year, it had changed with the removal of the smaller concession and the addition of a Starbucks (or maybe I didn’t see that last year).
Food lines were outrageous, and food delivery was slow. They ran out of food and was able to scrape up just a pretzel for one of our school parents. I can understand the rules, but make sure you are able to back up the rules.
The saving grace was that the venue is a short drive from a major intersection with at least 5 popular fast food chains. We literally drove out, bought, came back and had a nice lunch (outside) before some people got their food in the line we had tried in the venue initially.
Very similar, is not exactly like the past year. A nice selection of items, including knit and Guinness wear. You can see the list here. Sadly, no Irish M&Ms :(
As mentioned above, the results for grades were posted on a far wall, away from the stages, and they could pick up their awards right next to the results display.
The PC/OC had their own corner for the podium and it was roomy and remote. Thought it was well done.
It seemed like a very long day. Like last year, the lunch seemed to take forever and there was grumbling among the masses. We knew we probably wouldn’t start until after lunch, and that is exactly what happened, but you know as well as I that you can never really be sure, so we got there at 10am.
TGC did not dance till mid afternoon and her comp (which was kind of big) finished in about 30 minutes. Her awards were announced about 75 – 90 minutes later, which seems close to what we have experienced at other feis lately.
If you have been reading my reviews for a while, you may have realized that I didn’t score the individual sections. It seems to me that the scoring does not always capture how I really felt about the feis, and either way, will probably differ from how the person next to me felt about the feis. I have chosen instead to list the facts and just tell you how I would grade it. As always, you can add your rating below :)
Overall, not a bad feis. Nothing was terrible and even the food and slippery stage issues had workarounds. And as for the long day, I was the one that got there early, and that is not the feis’ fault.
So, based on all that, I give this feis an 8.5
Don’t even need to think about whether we will be back or not, we will.