The Louisville Feis was held June 21, 2014 in the South Wing A of the Kentucky Exposition Center. The McClanahan School has hosted the Louisville Feis for 18 years. The feis is sponsored by The Greater Louisville Irish Cultural Society, Inc. This year was an excellent example of why it is an enduring feis tradition in the region.
The Kentucky Exposition Center is enormous. It is home to several different buildings and structures. The Louisville Cardinal stadium, Kentucky Kingdom, and Freedom Hall are all located within it’s boundaries. The feis was housed in South Wing A. Once we located South Wing A, we were good to go. Please see Parking for my suggestions for next year. This was fine example of a well run convention center feis. South Wing A is a large convention hall. It was well lit and clean. The bathrooms were large, clean, and well marked. They were also well stocked the entire feis. The only areas congested were around the stages. Everywhere else was easily traversed. Each stage also had their own marked camping area. Restricted areas and No Camping areas were maintained and respected by attendees, from what we observed. There were also several expansive, open areas for practicing. The feis also offered discount Kentucky Kingdom tickets for attendees. The parking fee, paid at the gate, covered both the feis and amusement park for the day.
8 out of 10
There were several vendors present at the feis. The variety was unexpected, with the local artisans really supporting the feis en masse. A third of the vendors were crafters or artisans. No Smarties or UK Cadbury bars, unfortunately. The vendors including the following:
- Made by Mare
- Dance shoes
- Craft bottle lights
- Irish doo dahs
- Dancer wigs and doo dahs
- Custom glass and metal artwork
- Ireland theme children book seller
- Custom soap maker
- Paint your own canvas
- Refeis the Dress
8 out of 10
The food selection was very limited at this feis. A feis volunteer let me know one of their food vendors did not show up. This pushed all the stages back more than 30 minutes for the scheduled lunch break. The feis did not want to release everyone for lunch until there were options for attendees. Several families ate packed lunches in their vehicles. Ash Wilkes purchased his afternoon feis coffee. He was most pleased. He was also more pleasant for the remainder of the feis.
The food and drinks were also quite pricey, $3.75 for a bottle of soda pop, $3.75 for a medium coffee. There was an ice cream vendor, a beverage vendor, and hotdogs etc.
After lunch, we overheard many complaints of indigestion, regarding the hot dogs.
3 out of 10
Judging was a jumbled carpet bag. 2 little darlings danced all of their competitions for the same judge. It worked to the benefit of one darling and to the detriment of the other. Our other two darlings danced for a different judge each of their soft shoe dances. They appeared to stop rotating the judges after lunch, since they danced their hard shoe for the same judge. If they had continued rotating them after lunch, my score would have been a 9.
7 out of 10
The stages well spaced and curtained. they were not raised. Duct taped plywood on a grid of 2×2’s, from what we could see. The feis volunteers did clean them at lunch break, and at signs of them becoming slippery.
Good speakers were stationed at the front corners of the stages. This kept music overflow to a minimum. Each stage had adequate stage seating for viewing. There was an enormous amount of room for camping by each stage.
7 out of 10
This feis showcased some of the most talented, versatile, and accommodating feis musicians I have had the pleasure of witnessing. Delays were handled professionally. They were in control of their music, tempo, and had speaker volume control. Many of them were encouraging to the dancers, in addition to playing the required music with enthusiasm and skill. A few of them did experience challenges with the sound systems in place. The wiring was not in their control. Fiddles and accordions were spaced well apart. Stage music overflow occurred only a couple of times, that we noticed. It was handled with surprising speed.
9 out of 10
There was an $8 parking fee to enter any gate pf the Kentucky Expo Center. There was plenty of parking outside the South Wing Hall. Everyone paid the same price to park. If you wanted to avoid the parking fee, there was a shuttle service from the feis hotel, for hotel guests. For future reference, the gate across from the Louisville International Airport is the most direct route to the feis hall. Otherwise, you could be driving quite a distance on the one way loop around the expo center. Just trust me, it is a large loop. Try to avoid it. Just trust me on this one.
8 out of 10
Speed for awards seemed dependent on the stage. Average was 20 minutes. Some stages were longer, others within 10 minutes. Volunteers were plentiful, industrious, and helpful. They were well connected with radios and well marked in WORKHORSE shirts of red and blue. The feis also provided comments for all dancers. Champs received their comments at awards. All other results were posted on a wall, toward the front of the convention hall.
There seems to be a trend with Mid America feisanna to go small with awards. From first feis to open champion, they all received the same medals for individual placements. I did not see any treble reels, so I do not know what was given for those competitions. 4th and 5th place received printed, colored ribbons. Beginners received a stuffed horse and purple beginner ribbon. This made the feis for the little dancers. At least from what scenes of bouncing and squealing I witnessed when passing the awards table. Prizewinner level dancers received small pedestal medallion trophies for 1st place. Champ awards were not posted. They were announced at a separate area, on a raised stage. It was also where the flags were posted and anthems were sung. Champs received boxed gifts for overall placements. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd received sashes. Champs received Medals for individual shoe placings.
6 out of 10
As with results postings, this seemed to be dependent on the stage. The stage two our little darlings were on most of the day moved quickly. It wrapped up just after 2pm. Other stages were still running after 3pm. The feis was comp,eted with competitions at close to 4pm. Stages and vendors were tearing down at 4:15pm. Results were still ongoing at the champion awards stage. The feis was, overall, organized and well run.
The WORKHORSES of the Lousiville Feis certainly did themselves proud. They “ran” an excellent race. Very well done. The Wilkes family plans to attend the Louisivlle Feis in 2015.