Raleigh Feis 2015, Grades Review

raleighThe Raleigh Feis was held February 6 and 7, 2015. Even though it is called the Raleigh Feis, it was held in the Durham Convention Center, in downtown Durham, North Carolina. This feis put the Ish in Irish. Registration began at 6ish on Friday evening. The competitions began at 8ish on Saturday. The stages were handled in a professional-ish manner. After all, enough is as good as a feast, isn’t it? This was the first feis, in a long time, where we have not heard Quiet in the Hall. So this was also a quiet-ish feis. The feis had something for all ages and abilities. The feis offered competitions in Celtic instrumental music and vocals. They also offered Celtic Art and Baking competitions. The main feis competitions were supplemented by treble reels, traditional and non traditional sets specials, and the Maureen Harling-Welty charity reel specials.

Venue: 6 out of 10

This was advertised as a convention center feis. As this was our first experience, we went on the advertised information. Our mistake. This is a glorified hotel convention center feis. Think crowded ballrooms, low lighting, and cramped hallways. With the stages on the floor, it caused most spectators to stand. Only the first four rows could see the dancers fully. From the fifth row on to the back, you saw bobbing heads and bouncing curls. The feis had previously announced a No Camping policy. It also announced that the venue would provide ample feis seating. Ample feis seating is a relative term. This could be seen by the numbers of people standing or kneeling in the aisles. Personally, I learned that posting an irritating tween next to empty seats for your family is as effective as a pile of gear. The more people who ask if the seats are taken, the more irritated the tween becomes. I think one family kept nearly half a row empty with this method. Of course, I pity those in the immediate vicinity of said tween. But, a method to remember, none the less.

Parking: 10 out of 10

For a feis, parking was plentiful. Some intrepid feis goers found free parking, on the street. Others could park at the municipal garage for $3 a day. Hotel parking ranged from $9 to $12, for overnight guests. So, all things considered, parking was an A+ for this feis.

Food: 6 out of 10

$2 for a bag of chips. $1.50 for a piece of fruit. The outside food and drink rule was sporadically enforced. Many feis supporters were seen carrying hotel coffee cups into the venue. (Yours truly, included.). The way in which the venue was constructed made it easy to leave for a bite to eat. The hotel provided coffee in the lobby, for those who knew where to look. Ash Wilkes was much more pleasant, after having his pre-feis and mid-feis cups of coffee. The feis provided 2 different food stands. Feis vendors also sold snacks. (Genuine Cadbury, anyone?)

Music: 5 out of 10

One little darling had a blessed accordionist for their stages. Said accordionist also had to repair their instrument during the morning competition. It caused confusion and delay. Our older three darlings had a fiddler for accompniament. Even in the best of circumstances, a violin is difficult to hear over hard shoe competitions. This proved to be no exception. We saw several dancers experience music related problems. Speaker volume and instrument connectivity were also a problem.

Judging: 4 out of 10

Two of our darlings had the same judge for all of their competitions. Our other two darlings had two judges for their competitions. This worked out favorably for all but one of our darlings. As I have said before, at a perfect feis, they would have a different judge for each dance. The least they could have done was to send them to the opposite stage in the same room. Then, there would have been some attempt at rotation. Sadly, for two of our darlings, all of their competitions were on the same stage…for the same judge. This feis did something we have not seen previously. They listed their art, music, and baking judges separately. The Art and Baking judges gave written comments. It was a nice touch and was an appreciated surprise by several recipients. The music judge gave verbal comments with the awards ceremony. Again, a nice touch.

Results: 6 out of 10

The results came out in a timely manner, in the morning. The room for the results was very well chosen. An L shaped location, with large easels. Brilliant solution, Raleigh Feis! It allowed for traffic flow, simple locating, and easy results reading. Champ results, with podium, were announced in a separate location. Again, brilliant move for the Raleigh Feis.

Awards: 6 out of 10

This would have been higher, if they had not advertised special awards for their art and baking competitions. Those competitors received standard medals. Which is fine, except when the feis advertising suggested otherwise. Prizewinner and above received feis emblazoned trophies. We saw several smiling dancers carrying them. Also, the top three champ placements received sashes. Wide satin sashes, with the feis name on them. This feis also offers a charity reel special, in memory of Maureen Harling-Welty. Each participating dancer received a commemorative card, long stemmed rose, and a Twizzler. This set of special was popular with all ages, from beginner to championship dancers. The new medals this feis rolled out were interesting. A clear, etched, plastic oval with the feis name and location. Instead of using gold, silver and bronze to differentiate placements, day glow medal neck ribbons were the identifier. The only draw back to these medals are the noise they make. Plastic clunking into plastic. Now, what else makes that noise? LEGOS. It is the same sound they make, as they are being dumped out of a box. Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but that sound makes me cringe. One little darling had their medals taken from in the car, on the ride home. Even Mellie Wilkes can only take so much.

Social Media: 5 out of 10

The feis utilized social media in the weeks leading up to the feis. They also began using social media to announce champ award times. Sadly, this happened after the lunch break. Social media would have been helpful with the reasons behind slow grade stages and the bumping up of charity specials in the schedule.

Overall Score: 6

All things considered, this was an enjoyable feis for the Wilkes family. Even though it was a bit of a drive, we plan to attend next year. The Raleigh Feis volunteers put in a lot of work. It resulted in a successful feis.

So what did you think?

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1 reply
  1. Susie Shamrock
    Susie Shamrock says:

    My dancer was on the same stage with the same judge as well. Also, the splits and merges made no sense. Two girls danced alone while the next group down was packed. Several times there were groups of three/four dancing at the same time. That is frustrating for everyone. Just merge the groups to have a win count for someone instead of tiny groups having a win not count because of too few. That is a no brainer.


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