Is the grass really greener on the other side?

podiumFor my next Antonio Pacelli blog post, a brief overview of some of the differences between Grades and Champs you as new feis parents might see at a feis.

You can see the entire article over on the Feis Dad section of the Antonio Pacelli Community Blog at

Buckeye State Feis Review 2015 (CR)

The Buckeye State Feis was held on April 25th, 2015 at the The Bricker Building at The Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, OH.

This is a Community Review with comments by the attendees. If you attended please add your thoughts below.

Please see the Community Review page for suggested comment subjects and a other posting suggestions if you are going to add your thoughts.



Dayton Feis Review 2015 (CR)

The Dayton Feis was held on April 26th, 2015 at the Dayton Airport Expo Center in Vandalia, OH.

This is a Community Review with comments by the attendees. If you attended please add your thoughts below.

Please see the Community Review page for suggested comment subjects and a other posting suggestions if you are going to add your thoughts.



Fill your Feis Bag for under $15!

If you are like me, you have just dropped a chunk of change on Irish dancing. This could have been for a workshop, dance camp, private lessons, school dance costume, or new dance shoes. Possibly even (gasp) a new feis vest or solo dress! Anyway you look at it, you just spent a lot of money.

But, your dancer still has a feis bag to supply. Fear not! At least that part of the equation does not have to be quite so expensive. You can stock their feis bag and still have enough to join Ash Wilkes, or Mr. WTF, for a feis coffee.

Our family was able to find all of the items listed below at our local dollar shop. For your specific area, please check around. Different stores stock different merchandise. In the US and Canada, the Dollar Tree is one of the largest dollar chain shops. In our area, there are also smaller shops. Even though they have other names, we still call them Five and Dimes. If you want your local store to stock particular items, speak with the store manager. Another option is to purchase, in bulk, from the internet. This could be an ideal, and cost effective solution, for a dance school.

Hair donut/ wig lifter

These sell for upwards of $3 at the feisanna. I have even seen them priced at $5. You could pick spares and still come out with change. They stock 3 color options. Light, Medium, and Dark.

Black Electrical tape/White electrical tape

Although the white electrical tape could be it’s own item, I have lumped them together. The black tape comes in the regular, palm sized roll. We go through two rolls, per month, at our house. The white tape comes on a 6″ roll, along with green, blue, yellow, and red tape. If you have a Fusion Fighter fan in your house, this could make them happy. For just a couple of dollars, they could trick out their hard shoes, too.

Duct tape

Now, this is the off brand duct tape. But, it still comes in black. Along with several other color options. Traction is traction, at least in the Wilkes household. If you want to argue the benefits of electrical, gaffers, and duct tape, there are forums online for just such a purpose. If you want to save money on an item that will be stomped on and thrown away, this is your purchase choice.

Mole skin/bandages

Blisters. Cuts. Scrapes. They are a fact of life in every form of dance. They can be particularly problematic in Irish dance. Keeping a stash of mole skin and adhesive bandages is a good plan. Grab a couple boxes of each, if you have more than one dancer in your family.

Safety pins/Sewing kit

It happens to everyone. Your dancer is about to go onstage and disaster strikes. Whether it is a broken number clip, damaged cape, or unsnapped leotard, your dancer requires a quick solution. Safety pins are the fastest fix. Keep the sewing kit for quick repairs. This is especially helpful when you discover a problem the night before the feis. Add a pair of small scissors, if you have more than one dancer. The little scissors included in the kit are fine to deal with once or twice. More than that, and even Mellie Wilkes loses patience. Sharp scissors make sewing easier.

Sport hair gel/spritz

Brace yourself. This will not be your Aussie/Redken/BedHead/FancyPants hair supply selection. This will be the hair equivalent of glue in a bottle, or in a tube. It will keep all those little, fine, flyaway hairs in place. Especially helpful when placing a bun wig on a smaller dancer. Add a plastic/faux bristle brush, if you do not want to cross contaminate your existing feis hair supplies. It will better spread the gel through the hair, as you put it into the pony tail/bun. You can also rinse it in hot water and air dry. The spritz is great for holding feis hair poufs and spikes in place, too.

Bobby pins

Who does not require 100 or more? Especially on the morning of the feis. Our family has certainly bought our fair share of them. Most of them probably ended up on the feis stage or in the hotel elevator. So, grab a pack. Or two. Or ten… You get the idea. Have some extras on hand. If you would rather not lose them so quickly, pick up a hard shell carry case for them. The adhesive bandage sized cases work great. They are also easy to find in a feis bag.


You can grab a 2-pack, in a variety of colors, while you are in the store. Invariably, we loan ours out or lose them in transit. With several stages to watch, the highlighter makes competition tracking easiest. It is bright and easy to use. For us, it is also easy to lose.

Cooling sport towel

These are great! Especially for your dancer who gets quite warm. Whether in a solo dress, feis vest, or school dress, this item can be a life saver. They are hand washable. We get our cold in the room, then put it into a zipper baggie. In the summer, drop on a cube of ice. Once at the feis, you can drape it over the dancer’s neck. Or you can wipe down their arms and part of their back.

Instant cold packs

These are amazing to have on hand. The unthinkable can happen to any dancer. None of them are immune from falls, bumps, or on stage collisions. These are the snap and roll for instant cold packs. Be sure to check the package before purchasing. You do not want to buy this item damaged. Picking up a hard shell case for these is also advisable, especially if you have more than one dancer in your family.

There you have it! A list to fill your feis bag for under $15. Obviously, you could spend quite a bit more, or less. Be sure to take stock of your existing supplies, before shopping. No sense spending more money on items you do not need.

Then, you will have some cash on hand for those new diamanté socks.

Priorities, after all.

McGrath Feis Review 2015 (CR)

The McGrath Feis was held on April 19th, 2015 at the CD Hylton High School In Woodbridge, VA.

This is a Community Review with comments by the attendees. If you attended please add your thoughts below.

Please see the Community Review page for suggested comment subjects and a other posting suggestions if you are going to add your thoughts.



Feis At The Beach 2015 Review (CR)

fabThe Feis at the Beach was held on April 18th, 2015 at the Wildwood Convention Center, in Wildwood N.J.

This is a Community Review with comments by the attendees. If you attended please add your thoughts below.

Please see the Community Review page for suggested comment subjects and a other posting suggestions if you are going to add your thoughts.



Community Feiseanna Reviews

Some of the comments I hear about What The Feis dot com are thanks for the feis reviews. They help new families get a mental picture of what to expect, or help folks going to new feiseanna find out more about a feis they may be attending for the first time, even if they are seasoned feis goers. I am afraid however, that feiseanna reviews have slowed down on What The Feis, due to a combination of 3 parts busy schedules and 1 part burn out. Over the years I have written, as close as I can estimate, around 100 reviews and I feel they are getting a bit repetitive.

Thankfully I have had some folks step up and help, providing a few dozen more reviews from places I can’t get to, or as a second opinion to ones I do get to, but alas, after a few, even the volunteers tend to slow down. I get it, it takes time to capture all that info and get it into a useful format. I am thankful for the time they have already given.

The other downside to having a single opinion in a feis review is it is not all-inclusive. I have had a great day on a PC stage while people were suffering on a Grades stage, or I might be less critical on a review if TGC places well, than I would be if she placed poorly… it could happen ;)

So today, it hit me, as I was reading responses to a facebook post I put out there regarding how the weekend feiseanna went, what about a ‘community review’?

Community Review, what’s that?

Lots of people have an opinion on how a feis went. Some good, some not so good, and Facebook is great for throwing out a quick comment or two. Problem is, it’s a pain in the buttocks to find that info the next time you need it. Scrolling through FB posts can be mind-numbing, and I highly doubt a feis committee will be able to, or even try to, see anything that people say about their feis if they have to spend a lot of time searching for it, unless, there was site that captured that info in one place, in any easy to find and use format. Somewhere Google could spider and have search results available when people Google the feis. You guys see where I am going here?  ;)

Introducing the WTF Community Review

How about on What The Feis?

All I ask is that you do what you are doing now, taking a minute to type in a comment(s) about the feiseanna you attend, but do it here in addition to, or instead of, Facebook. They can be either positive or negative, but if they are negative, present them in a positive manner. We would like people to learn from what we have to say, not be put off by our whining.


Here is I see it working. I will create a Community Review for a feis, and open up comments. You simply add your thoughts in those comments. Categories you can comment on are (but are not limited to):

  • Venue
  • Judges
  • Musicians
  • Food
  • Vendors
  • Results
  • Feis Flow
  • Awards
  • Hotel
  • Parking
  • Local Eats and Attractions
  • whatever else would be helpful to someone else

If you have a negative, be nice, and try to add a positive. I have never been to a feis where everything sucked.

Please do not use the anonymity of the internet to be nasty, the comments are moderated. The hypocrisy of me asking you guys to use your real names is obvious, but it would be nice. I am Mike btw ;)

Community Reviews will be labeled (CR) in the title so you can tell if it is an individual author or a group effort.

And that is about it. I am going to put one out there, so lets see how this goes.


Big Apple Feis 2015 PC/OC Review

The Big Apple Feis was held on Sunday, March 22, 2015 at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square in New York City.

NOTE: The images are screenshots from the Voy Boards that were sent in by the reviewer. She submitted them to let us know her opinion was not uncommon. (Click each for a larger version)

I am not sure where to even begin with this feis. We attended this last year and thought we would give it another try since everyone can have an off day. This year was worse than last year, and I thought last year was bad. This feis has so much potential with a great area. Who wouldn’t want to go to Times Square and dance? A great time could be had by all, but unfortunately that is where this feis ends.

Prep/ Communication

The syllabus comes out very late (and has for many years). It was hard to plan this year since they moved to a different venue and changed the date. This made it difficult to plan for out of area families. The website looks like an 8 year old put it together. In fact, the website is not viewable on most iPhones and iPads. While having twitter was a great way to communicate, please provide correct information. One tweet would say all champs are on floor 9, but the schedule had champs on floor 8. The schedule changed with each bright sunrise (albeit minor), but no revisions were labeled, so it made it difficult to know which schedule you were working from.

Rating: 3


This is a hard section to write. I know we are all dependent on our volunteers to help with any feis. While the intent was clearly present, the feis lacked execution in this category. There was far too few to go around, and the few that were asked question didn’t know any answers. There was a 25+ person  backup to pick up number cards in the morning with only one volunteer. There were lines throughout the day to pick up awards. Stages were missing monitors and judges had to monitor and judge at the same time. Maybe they could coordinate with some local schools to increase the volunteer pool in the future?

Rating: 2



Times Square!! Does it get any better than that? The hotel was large and beautiful. Unfortunately, the feis was spread over 3 floors and there was no signage at all to tell people where to go. Multiple elevators and escalators will take you to where you need to be, but that is where it ends. The schedule listed room names that were nonexistent. There was no room rate, so if you had a spare $400/ night, you were lucky enough to stay there. While not the feis’s fault, multiple times during the day bathrooms were without toilet paper and paper towels. I’m just waiting for the illnesses to start later this week. Extremely cramped small hotel rooms. Extremely cramped. While there was a lack of space in the rooms, plenty of dancers found places outside in the halls to practice.

Venue: 7


Oh my! While times on the schedule are certainly not guaranteed, most of the stages ran somewhere between 1 ½ to 3 hours behind. I knew we were in trouble when the feis was supposed to start at 8 and it did not begin until 9. Stages that were lucky enough to have a monitor moved faster than others. The stages looked good, built up from carpeted hotel floors, and sounded good. I did not see many falls, and my dancers said they were not slippery, so kudos there.



Unfortunately for me, my daughter was on Stage 3. Stage 3 had a musician for grades, until he got up and left. Yes, left for good right as the champs were starting. Maybe he had an emergency, I don’t know. But the next few hours were spent begging parents to hand over their iPhones if they had any music on it. Many thanks to all the parents who did, because my daughter would never have been able to dance if they didn’t. Musicians on the other stages sounded good and as far as I know only the one musician left. Apparently this happened in previous years as well.




Provided by the hotel, but certainly lots of choices. I always forget how much a sandwich is in NYC. I better take on a second job…

Rating: 6


The usual vendors, shirts, shoes headbands. Nothing special and only a few. I did notice an Irish tourism booth though. I kept thinking I would rather be in Ireland than the feis. But I digress….

Rating: 7


This is the most redeeming aspect of this feis. The coveted crystal apples! This feis produces beautiful awards. They come in all sizes from gold small ones for grades to very large crystal ones for opne champs. Beautiful, lovely awards! I just wish they didn’t run out of them….

Rating: 8 (would have been a 10 if they didn’t run out)


Like I said in the beginning, this feis has great potential given the area and the hotel. More volunteers, signage and a room rate would make this feis very special. Please order more crystal apples… we love them! Sadly, I‘m not sure we want to go back until the kinks are worked out.


What did youse guyz tink?  ;)

What did you think of the Big Apple Feis 2015, (on a scale of 1 - 10 with 1 being lowest)?Big Apple Feis

  • 1 (36%, 4 Votes)
  • 3 (18%, 2 Votes)
  • 8 (9%, 1 Votes)
  • 7 (9%, 1 Votes)
  • 10 (9%, 1 Votes)
  • 5 (9%, 1 Votes)
  • 2 (9%, 1 Votes)
  • 4 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • 9 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • 6 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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The 7 Stages of Purchasing Your First Solo Dress

peggyAnother post for my Feis Dad Gig out on Antonio Pacelli. I noticed a similarity between a few different ‘life events’.

Typically, ‘The 7 Stages’ are associated with something completely different, but I have come to find, that they are the exact same stages of purchasing your first, and subsequent solo dresses.

Don’t believe me? See the The 7 Stages of Purchasing a Solo Dress