The Peach State Feis was held May 2-3, 2014, in Atlanta, Georgia. The feis was held at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North. This is the same location as last year. The feis is run by Peach State Feis Inc. Truly, this is a feis of the Drake School. Their Southern Region feisanna, typically, are run under the supervision of the talented and famous Karl Drake. New this year, is the inclusion of a Feis Fiesta, held after the Friday evening competitions. This feis has no competitor cap. It also includes many competitions for all ages and abilities. From the Gaelic language, Celtic Art, and music competitions to their treble reels and traditional set competitions, this is a feis that promises to hold something for everyone.
Venue: 4 out of 10
This is a hotel feis. By definition, hotel feisanna are spread out over several, tightly packed rooms, reached by traversing crowded, noisy hallways, and end with overworked volunteers in a poorly lit awards room or area. The Peach State Feis is no exception. It also could be called the Southern Sardine Feis. You will feel as though you had been inside a sardine can, by the end of the feis. The hotel is still undergoing construction. There were no bathrooms on the feis level floor at all. Everyone had to walk upstairs to use the restroom. At registration Friday evening, the halls smelled like a summer camp cabin. Fortunately, the smells of dance bags, hair spray, sweat, and Mexican food soon over powered it. The volunteers really did all they could to answer questions, guide parents, and corral dancers. The grade level halls were noisy and crowded. The stage was about 2 inches off of the floor. There was room to walk. Barely. The feis awards room was at the end of the main hallway. All the vendors were accessible on the main hallway. The champs room was much quieter. It was also very well lit, with a raised stage. It should be noted that was no room to practice or stretch.
Vendors: 8 out of 10
Two of the vendors scheduled for the feis did not arrive. Otherwise, it would have been a 10 out of 10. The Drake School feisanna usually have a wide variety of excellent vendors. This year, they included:
- Specialized t shirts
- Portable Speakers
- Shoe and poodle sock vendor
- Ireland/Celtic/Feis themed items
- Celtic Fine Jewelry
- Free Physical Therapy and Injury Evaluations
- Wig and Hair Bobs
- Crystal photographs
Food: 6 out of 10
Hotel concessions were available. Bagels with cream cheese were $2. The food was fine for a hotel feis. There was also a restaurant and Starbucks down the hall. The Starbucks prices were a bit higher than home. $3.50 for a large iced, flavored coffee or a large regular cup of coffee. If coffee is easily available, the Ash Wilkes is quite pleased. Thus, the reason for the high food rating. He enjoyed his coffee and stayed pleasant the entire feis.
Music: 8 out of 10
Accordions! How thankful I was to hear those blessed accordions at all the stages. Even with the din of the halls, you could hear the music. The speakers were well above the heads of all the dancers. The first few rounds of Advanced Beg, the musician started the music a bit roughly. As the number progressed, the beginning of the dances became a smoother transition. Having the counter on stage saved several people from timing errors, in my observation. With there being accordions at the feis, there was occasionally some musical carry over between the rooms. Since the feis was a crowded, noisy one, this was only noticed rarely, and more often in the afternoon.
Parking: 5 out of 10
With there being no competitor cap, there is no telling how many people will be attending the feis. No telling how many cars. Also, since the event is held at a hotel, these same people will be looking for cars in a parking lot with other hotel guests. I am sure you can see where this is going. Parking was made more of a challenge with the hotel construction detours.
My personal recommendation is to arrive between 3 and 4:30pm on Friday night. Be prepared to keep your car in your parking spot until your family is finished at this feis. Easier said than done, I understand. It is something to consider for next year.
Judges: 6 out of 10
Judges were kept at the same table for the morning grades. The dancers were rotated. There were 3 stages in the grades room. 1 stage in the champ room. Depending on the number of grade level dances, the dancer may have danced for 3 different judges, or, they may have danced for 1 judge 3 times and the other judges only 1 time. My personal preference is for a different judge for each dance competed. This feis was more of a statistical probability game with judging. It all depended on the number of dances, the rotation of the stage, and where each fell in the operation of the schedule. The same rotation and judges were in place for the afternoon grade competition for Novice. They were changed completely for the Prizewinner competitions. One judge left before the end of Prizewinner competitions. This complicated the remainder of the competitions for those 3 stages, leaving 2 judges for the room. (See also Feis Flow)
Results: 7 out of 10
Results were posted roughly 15-30 minutes after the completion of the dance. A wide estimation range, I know. Some dances were posted quickly. Some dances did not post results for quite awhile. It should be understood that the extreme crowding of the halls and hallways effected the runners ability to relay the scores to the tabulation room. The medals were a change from last year. This year, they were palm sized, embossed and enameled peaches, with the feis name and logo. There were gold, silver, and bronze. All other placements were copper colored and embossed, without the enamel. Trophies were awarded for all traditional set placements, in addition to Prizewinner and Up. Champions received various crystal gifts, trophies, sashes, and perpetual trophies, depending on their competition level, age, and placement.
Feis Flow: 7 out of 10
Some changes were made from last years schedule. The Friday evening figure, language, music, and vocal competitions were held on the large ballroom stages. They were followed by the Feis Fiesta party. The evening competitions began almost 30 minutes late, which of course pushed the figures late. The charity treble reel, at the Feis Fiesta, was postponed until the figures completed. Of course, many of us now that the Drake School knows how to throw a great party. The Feis Fiesta was a huge success, with money raised for the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. Piñatas ended the party.
The following morning, the grades schedule progressed very smoothly. The feis started on time. Lunch break occurred on schedule, at 12:10pm. The stages resumed, for grades, close to 45 minutes later. The rooms were both quieter and less crowded in the afternoon. Towards the end of the day, a judge leaving early affected the schedule. The final prizewinner and treble reel schedules went from three to two stages. The bathrooms being upstairs created delays, during what are usually short breaks for the judges.