The Feis An Fhomhair, hosted by the Irwin School of Irish Dancing, was held on October 10-12, 2014 in Calgary, Alberta.
The Feis An Fhomhair takes place at the Hyatt Regency Calgary, in the heart of downtown. Guest rooms are wonderful, service staff is attentive and friendly, and the special “feis rate” brings the cost down to a manageable level for families. The Hyatt has underground parking (with a special rate for feis attendees.) I did not notice other downtown parking near the hotel.
Stages were set up in the large meeting rooms on the 3rd floor. A/B and C/D were in the larger room, and E/F was in the smaller space immediately adjoining. My dancer reports that the stages here are wonderful for dancing, each year. They seem adequately spacious. There was plenty of seating for observers.
Vendors were set up in large hallway outside of competition rooms. A nearby room had solo dresses for sale ($5 charge to hang you dress,) results on the wall, and the table where the professional photographer sold his shots of your dancer. Farther down the hallway was a dance practice room.
The schedule called for FIGURES and ADULT competitions on Friday night. PRELIM and OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS on Saturday. FIRST FEIS to PRIZEWINNER competitions on Saturday.
Feis administrators, announcers, and stage monitors in general did a fine job communicating to dancers when to check in. (the announcer on E/F Sunday does need instruction on using a microphone.) They seemed very focused on not having downtime. My one criticism of getting dancers checked in early was on Sunday a.m. : competitions started with First Feis dancers. These dancers were checked in and sitting side-stage for 10 minutes waiting for judges and musicians to arrive.
Judges & Musicians
There was an adequate number of judges, who rotated stages regularly. Musicians were very capable. Each stage had a fiddle and an accordion. There was a little bit of sound interference from one room to the other.
Feis An Fhomhair draws many vendors, who set up near the competition rooms. Dance shoes, Solo dresses, tiatraas and buckles and jewelry, snacks, shirts and jackets and bags (including Zuca bags,) were all available. The School also hired professional photographers who sold pix of dancers on stage. (Not sure how distracting it is to dancers to have the photographers snapping shots as they compete.)
Besides the vendor selling snacks, the Hyatt Regency has a coffee and baked goods shop in the lobby that also sells snacks and bottled drinks, as well as two restaurants. I’m not aware of restrictions on bringing outside food into the feis; some folks did.
Results were posted in a room just down the hall from the competition rooms. It didn’t take too long for the results to be posted. I especially appreciate that at Feis An Fhomhair, a paper copy of each dancer’s results is included in the cost of registration, and can be picked up after a dancer completes her/his dances.
Things to do around the Feis
Beyond the feis, downtown Calgary also has its attractions. The Calgary Tower is just a block from the Hyatt, and Chinatown with its many restaurants is only a four-block walk. The Calgary Zoo is highly regarded, and you can take the train (that stops at the Hyatt) straight there. Numerous shops and restaurants are within easy walking distance of the Hyatt Regency, including a McDonald’s.
Did you attend? What did you think?Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.