Feis At The Falls Review

The Feis At The Falls was held on August 11th, 2012 at The Conference Center Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls, NY.  Ever thought about going and didn’t know what to expect? Well here ya go…

Venue – The venue was nice and had two areas with six stages set up for ‘pre-champs’ in one, and two stages in the other area for Champs. Admittedly, since my daughter is in the Open/Prizewinner level, I don’t venture into champ land much, so I am talking about the area I was in. The stages were a nice size, had ample seating and good room between. The camping seemed plentiful but there were, as always, your ‘camping squatters’ who set up in the viewing seats and spread out their stuff. Can you tell that is a pet peeve? Parking was plentiful but pricey.

Judges – Three different judges rotated through my daughters 5 dances, so rotation was good. Two thumbs up.

Music – As far as I could tell, there was a musician at each stage and the musician at our stage took very short breaks, and only a few of them, so music was continuous. Great job on the musicians.

Lesson Learned: If you are a musician, don’t keep your side table to close to the stage because there is a good chance one of the dancers will launch it into the air with a kick while performing, sending your coffee, cell phone, etc… into the crowd. I know, it happened… I laughed.

Food – Typical convention center food at typical convention center prices. There is a TGI Fridays across the street, as well as a Starbucks, and some hotels with their own restaurants, so there were options.

Vendors – Standard vendors, the feis tshirt guy, Rutherford shoes, some wigs, clips, crowns and hair accessories, jewelry, etc… There was some Guinness shirts and Irish swag, but it was limited. There was also a window cling guy who had some fun dance designs, but I decided not to buy until he sells a ‘tag-a-long cause he had to brother’ cling to go with the dance Mom and Dad and dancer clings. If you are interested, you can view the vendor list.

I was also impressed by the dress area. Usually it is a disorganized mess, but these guys had it together. Dress sellers had to register their dresses, pay a small fee, and then pass the info and dress on to the ‘dress shop staff.’ The staff arranged the dresses by ages for easy browsing. Well done there too.

Results – well done. I would say the results were out in under 15 minutes for most dances (that I saw) but there was the occasional longer wait. They appeared to have a great system, higher tech than most, and the folks giving out the awards pulled up results on computer monitors. Well run. Can I make a suggestion guys? Ever consider tweeting the results? Just a thought ;)

Feis Flow – I thought this feis was very well run. They provided lunches for the judges at the stage tables so there was no ‘lunch break’ per se. It was so smooth that our last dance, the second to last one on our stage, was done before 2 p.m. That’s kind of unheard of in my experience. Very well done! (a local dance Mom did report that that was not common and it was the first time she had seen it at this feis too).

And the WTF Rating – What can I say, overall I was very impressed and give this feis a 9.0.

Feis At The Falls – The Tourism Review

We got to Niagara Falls on Friday night and stayed through Monday morning, so I figured I would add this bonus ‘tourism review.’

Niagara Falls American SideWhat can I say, if you go to this feis, you are literally a short walk away from an impressive natural attraction. We saw the falls every day during our walks and drove down one night to see the falls lit up. If you have never been, its one of those ‘you gotta see it’ places.

Niagara Falls Canadian SideWe stayed on the Canadian side, which actually has more attractions than the American side. You can visit places like Hard Rock (actually on both sides), Planet Hollywood, Margaritaville (which has Alexander Keith’s on tap, a fabulous beer I first had in Halifax where it is brewed), Ripleys Believe It Or Not, and lots of wax museums. If you have ever been to Myrtle Beach, or Gatlinburg, it’s kinda like that, with a Canadian accent. I would consider it a ‘family tourist area’ but tattoo parlors and head shops were evident on the main street. We stayed up on Lundy’s Lane, a few miles from the main area and there were some more mature shops in plain view, if you know what I mean.

Falls ManorProbably one of the most ethnically diverse areas we have visited, there were lots of food choices, 75% of which appeared to be pizza places. We didn’t have a bad meal, and there was lots of good beer. We had a great breakfast up on Lundy’s Lane at Falls Manor Dining Lounge, who claimed to have the best breakfast in town. Considering the crowd and number of locals, and the food, I would have to agree. We also found a great local bar called Chip N Charlies up on Lundy’s Lane that had great wings, pizza, fish and chips and burgers, and was CONSIDERABLY less expensive than all the other meals we had while in the area (including breakfast at Falls Manor and we had beer with our meal at CnC). Worth the drive up the lane.

Our hotel was less expensive but older and would not suit all tastes. There were lots of other options though.

Parking was everywhere, but was between $5 and $15 a day. The good thing is that once parked, you can walk everywhere.

All in all, if you go to the feis and have not been to this area before, I would recommend staying another day or two to have a little fun in there. If you can, get a hotel with a kitchenette to save on eating-out costs because the whole area is pricey, but as the kids say, YOLO.

Clan na nGael Summer Feis Review

The Clan na nGael Summer Feis was held on July 14th, 2012 at the Shamrock Club in Columbus, OH and this was the first one.  Here is what this casual observer had to say…

OK, lets just start with the weather. The feis organizers really had no control over that, but it impacted the feis nonetheless. Rain up till early afternoon and then the sun came out and it got hot and muggy. I can only imagine that the heat wore at the girls…oh, did I mention this was an OUTDOOR FEIS? Who plans an outdoor feis in July? Sorry guys, I can’t see how that was a good idea, but that being said…

Venue –  I liked the idea of having a feis at an Irish Club, but the inside space (reserved for senior dancers) was very cramped. The outdoor space had two stages that were set literally back to back, and the stages were very small. There was really no room for chairs for dancers and parents, so the chairs around the stage were saved for the dancers, which forced the parents to the outer edges of the tent spilling out into the rain, or the sun, as the case may be. There was plenty of room for an additional stage tent that would have alleviated a number of these problems. Camping space was plentiful, but I refer you back to the rain, sun, comment and there was just not enough shaded/cool areas.

Judges – caveat – I did not see how the judging was run inside. On the two outdoor stages, there were 2 judges seated at each, and they appeared to take turns judging. Combine that with the fact that the girls moved back and forth between stages, there appeared to be good judge rotation. Two thumbs up.

Stage rotation sounds like it might have been a pain, but the proximity of the stages, and a well organized dance schedule, made that run very smoothly.

Music – There were two musicians but only one played at a time providing music for both stages. There were very few times when a stage was waiting for the other to finish, and the wait (the ones I saw) were minor.

Food – There was a hot dog vendor open at lunch time, and that was it. Claddagh, the Irish Pub people, had a booth, but it closed at about 11 and reopened later in the afternoon. Tim Hortons had a van there till about lunchtime and there was an ice cream vendor, but the “lunch menu” was very limited. The dogs were good though and the prices reasonable. Oh, and since this was an Irish Club, you KNOW there was beer there, BUT, the outdoor bar beer taps were broken… that is just wrong, no Guinness on tap outside. They did have bottled beer(domestics) and the taps were working inside.

Vendors – the rain put a literal damper on these guys. There was a good shirt vendor in the morning through the early afternoon, when a few others opened, and then most of the normal Irish SWAG was represented. There were feis t’s for the event but they were very plain.

It was odd however that there were no shoe or wig vendors (which I did not realize till I started writing this review).

Results – very well done. I would say the results were out in 15 minutes or less on average. Great job there.

And the WTF Rating – Thinking back on the feis, I think it was well run as far as the judging, music, schedule and results were concerned. The small stages and having to deal with it being an outdoor feis (I mean it is still July in Ohio) may have made this the only time we attend this particular feis. WTF rating for this inaugural feis is a 6.5. I think there is huge potential for it if the issues with spaces/stages are handled better.

Being an Irish Dance Dad….

I often feel like I am only there to drive and pay, but tonight, I had the chance to use some of my Navy training to help my little ‘dancing queen.’

The toes on her hard shoes had no black left on them, so I broke out my shoe shine kit and spent a half an hour on them. I did not do them like I would have back in the day, when I could spit shine shoes and make them shine like mirrors, but I blackened them and gave them a bit of a shine. You really cant see it because of the flash, but its there. My shining ability was a source of pride for me back then (I was actually accused of wearing patent leather shoes for inspections), and to be able to share some of that with my daughter made me happy, but I digress…

Which makes me wonder however, is there a rule for shoes and how much they can/should shine? Is the well-worn look the best, or slightly blackened, or really shiny? Your thoughts would be appreciated. Oh, and if really shiny is best, you guys are in trouble ;)

And speaking of the Dayton Feis…

I want to say CONGRATS to Rachel from MI…. I won’t say what school or what age… She competed against my daughter and took first in every dance. Way to go!

Rachel and her Mom are the type to wait till the end to get results and it was killing me not to share with them how well Rachel was doing. It is really nice to meet dancers who don’t appear to have that ‘drama queen dance diva’ attitude and I like to see them succeed, even if they are beating my daughter.

Oh, BTW Rachel, can you move up so my daughter has a better chance?  Thanks!  ;)

and hi to Katie (Rachels little sister who also dances, and the reason I met the family in the first place)  :)

Editors Note: Rachel and her family have no way of knowing about this post, so if you know them by chance, please pass on my regards. Thanks!

Dayton Feis Review

The Dayton Feis was held on June 23rd,  2012 at Sinclair Community College in Dayton.  Here is what this casual observer had to say…

Venue –  I liked it.  May have seemed a little crowded to some people but I thought it was OK.  The stages were paired into twos,  at least the one that we were on,  but that was to accommodate limited musicians.  Unlike Louisville last week though,  it appeared they planned for that and had similar dances and comp sizes running simultaneously. Good camping space and stage separation (except the paired ones of course). Food was one floor up and awards two floors up, but it was a nice break to walk around between dances.

Judges – rotated frequently. Two thumbs up. You should know by now how I feel about a judge staying on one stage for multiple dances (“no sir, I don’t like it” (Ren and Stimpy reference, if you got that, you are my hero :) ))

Food – good job there too. They had burgers, pretzels and pizza,  but also provided healthier alternatives like veggies,  humus and chicken wraps.  There was also a Skyline Coney table if people were so inclined. Prices were reasonable.

Vendors – thumbs down, sorry. The shoe guy (George, actually his daughter this time), a wig table and an accessories table. No fun Irish SWAG, no books, no tshirts, in fact, I didn’t even see any Dayton Feis tshirts (might have missed it but if they had them, it was not evident).

OK, now for the big negative… results. It was somewhere between 90 minutes and 2 hours between my daughters dance and the results posting. I had flashbacks to the Akron Feis and LOTS of people were complaining about result timeliness. It was about that long for the second set of results to come out too. Later in the afternoon, it seemed like things got smoother, but people won’t remember that part, they will remember the slow postings.

So the WTF Rating – While I was at the feis, dealing with the results taking forever, I was thinking the rating should be 4.5, but as I read this, I really have more positives than negatives, so I will say 6.5. It could be higher, but waiting on results is big for us parents Dayton.

Louisville Feis Review

What to say about the Louisville Feis, held 6/16/2012,  well how about….

Thumbs up for the judging as they rotated often.  Not doing that is one of my big pet peeves.

Results came out fairly quickly,  somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes after each dance but typically closer to 10. Good job there!

Food was typical but pretty good and not outrageously priced.

I am afraid that is where the positives have to stop though.

The new venue,  although I hear through the grapevine is just temporary, is terrible.  Small and very cramped with inadequate seating and camping space and very loud,  so loud in fact the musician stopped and tried to hush the crowd.  Sorry,  call them like I see them.

Music was an issue with musicians playing for two stages at the same time.  Fine if they are both on the same version of the dance,  but otherwise it slowed everything down, sometimes quite a bit with one stage not dancing at all. I do have to give BIG PROPS to the musician that played stages 2 and 3. She played continuously and I saw her take only one break.

And speaking of slow,  we averaged about an 75 minutes between dances whereas last week in Cincinnati we did 4 dances in 2 hours.

Vendors were limited with shoes,  wigs and zucas but there was some jewelry and non-feis Irish apparel.

Sorry Louisville,  but the WTF rating for this years feis is only a 4.5.

Cincinnati Feis Review

Quick post regarding the Cincinnati Feis that was held on June 10th. I meant to post this right after the feis but had one of those weeks. 

Overall I liked the feis.  It was held at the Cintas Center at Xavier University and the venue was nice.  Lots of seats where you could both camp and view the stages. It was an ‘arena’ so the food was a bit pricey and was the typical fare,  pizza,  hot dogs,  pretzels,  etc….  The vendors were very limited,  shoes and wigs were represented but not much else.

Awards and scoring were handled really well and judges changed frequently which is more fair in this reporters opinion. Awards were listed right next to the stages which was convenient and the results were posted very quickly so kudos to them for that too.

Overall, What The Feis gives this feis a 7.5 out of 10.