Missouri State Championship Feis 2014 Review

The Missouri State Championship Feis was held at the DoubleTree Hilton Union Station, in downtown St. Louis. This is a new feis and it debuted on August 2, 2014. This feis offered an abundance of specials, for all ages and abilities. From trophies to sashes to cash prizes. This feis had something for everyone. The volunteers were hard working, ready to help, and able to answer questions. Every volunteer we had interaction with was helpful, smiling, and encouraging. You could almost call them Disney perfect helpers. Job well done, MO State Champs Feis Team Members!

Venue

This was a hotel feis. As most of the readers are aware, I am not a fan of hotel feisanna. Thankfully, this feis had low caps and a large venue. It worked well. The stairs from the ballrooms to the main hallway did create bottle necks, at times, but they were easily navigated otherwise. This distance did keep people from attending their award announcements and caused a couple of missed announcements and/or missed competitions. We found seats in the champ and grades rooms any time we were seeking them. There was plenty of room for camping, practicing, and chatting with feis friends. The bathrooms were large, clean, and well stocked the entire feis. The Wilkes family certainly enjoyed this feis and this venue. We plan to return next year, provided the cap remains low and the venue stays manageable, as it was this year. 8 out of 10

Parking

Parking was a mixed bag. If you stayed at the feis hotel, you were paying $20 a night minimum. If you drove in, you could have paid anywhere from $1.75 for the day to $20 for the day. It all depended on how much you wanted to walk and how much time you spent looking for a spot. Ash Wilkes found $1.75 for the day in a parking lot 2 blocks walk from Union Station. 8 out of 10

Judging

Rotation really did not occur frequently. Our darlings, older and younger, danced almost every one of their dances for the same judge. This worked well for our youngest darling. It did not work much in favor for our other darlings. Hardly any judge rotation is not a good thing, except for the chosen few that judge prefers. When it goes “your” way, it is great. Otherwise, it is frustrating. 3 out of 10

Results

As with many feisanna, results started coming out at about 15 minutes, from stage to results board. As the morning progressed, this time increased. It increased to 2 hours from stage to results announcements for specials. Since some of these increased wait time directly affected us, I am giving a low score. 2 hours is a long time to wait. We know others who were waiting on these results to be announced, just so they could start their drive home. They also have little ones, so it was an even tougher wait for them. 5 out of 10

Awards

Hooray! The first Mid America feis to GO BIG on their awards. If the medals had been embossed and not stickered, it would have been a 10 out of 10. Drake School has really set our medal expectations high this year, from their Peach state medals. Lovely black or pink embroidered sashes. Cash prizes for older. Open Champ winners. Wooden plaques for champion placements. Trophies for all first place winners in Prizewinner. Sashes, petite fours, and trophies for all 1st place special winners. Specially tagged stuffed animals for Tir Na Nog and First Feis dancers. Treats, medals, or ribbons for ALL Show Me State Reel competitors. It especially made our hearts happy to see that the trophies were created by Unique Engraving. Our family is glad to see the Clark Academy of Irish Dance supporting this wonderful, Irish dance trophy small business.  9 out of 10

Feis Flow

This feis was rushed. See also Music. The rushed competition style really kept all the dancers harried throughout the feis. Several dancers were hurriedly changing shoes. It also caused delays, which the rushing was supposedly trying to avoid. My suggestion would be to rotate the Advanced Beginner/Novice/Prizewinner/Adult dances. Start with their soft shoe and move through the hard shoe, traditional sets, and specials. This would give the Advanced Beginners time to change their shoes and get ready for their next dance. That same time to change shoes and prepare would be passed on to the Novice, Prizewinner, and Adult dancers. Either that, or start the feis an hour earlier and include time for shoe changes and musician breaks or rotations. 4 out of 10

Music

No breaks in the music, for as long as it could be possible. Stages 3 and 4 had a talented violinist. The speakers were not loud enough for the single musician to carry 2 stages. It was especially problematic when people were talking in the hall AND the dancers were competing hard shoe dances. It created problems for the dancers and the judges. Stages 1, 2, and 5 all had an accordianist. One for the first two stages and one for the champ stage. Even on stages 1 and 2, it was difficult to hear the music over talking in the hall and hard shoe competitions. Blessed accordionist, only 2 of our darlings had the benefit of your beautiful music. 5 out of 10

Feis Food

Ash Wilkes did find his feis coffee. It was $4.95. He also had to wait in a long line, since the venue coffee stand was under staffed. He did check out other venue food options. I looked for them and could not find them. None of them were in the main hallway, with the feis vendors. He did not purchase anything else, since the prices were high for small portions. But, yay for feis coffee! 4 out of 10

Feis Score: 6 out of 10

Great job for a brand new feis!

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