My Central New York Feis Experience

A few months ago I was looking at the calendar and realized this past week was my daughter’s spring break. Last year a lot of her friends went out of town and I knew we couldn’t go on a big spring vacation but I wanted to take her somewhere. So what else does a good feis mom do?  I started looking for a feis to attend and found one 5 1/2 hours away in Syracuse New York. As it got closer to feis day I started thinking that maybe we shouldn’t go. I’ve never driven 5 1/2 hours by myself and my husband couldn’t take the day off work to chauffeur me and I was worried I we would make the trip for nothing. As the week went on and my daughter was bored I decided to make the trip – after all I had paid for it and the adventure would break up the monotony.

The Central New York Feis is held at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse and is run by FeisWeb. I have to be honest – I don’t care for FeisWeb. When registering for a feis I’m used to seeing a count of how many are in each competition. I like that. It gives us a sense of the competition and whether or not the event will split or merge. It’s not possible to do this with FeisWeb. They give an up to the minute entry list but in order to see how many are in your competitions you have to scroll through and physically count the entries. Who has time for that? At least we got totals with the stage assignments. A nice touch was having the dance number emailed to us a few days before the feis. All we had to do was print in out and take it with us.

The feis itself was well run. It started promptly at 8:30 with the singing of the national anthems and headed straight to the competitions. Younger grades were danced three at a time with the older dancers two at a time. PC/OC competitions were held at the concurrent to the grades and those results were announced starting mid-morning. This CNY feis committee decided not to break for lunch because last year’s feis ran very long and they hoped to keep things moving this year. To help accommodate this they had two judges at each grade event. The two judges stayed at the same stage the entire day but took turns judging the competitions and taking breaks. It was different and liked it because it kept the momentum going. It also helped that we were allowed to bring coolers in and I was prepared with all sorts of delicacies to feast on. Which was a good thing because the concessions were not good at this feis – more on that in a moment.   The stages were organized and efficient and results were posted in lightning speed! Even with all these good things it still took us three hours to complete five events because the competitions were heavily populated. The two Novice dances my daughter competed in numbered into the mid-30s and thankfully split but the U11 and U14 weren’t so luck and had numbers in the mid to high 20s each. Trophies were handed out to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in the Open/Prizewinner competitions – a nice touch as I’m used to seeing only the 1st place dancer receive a goodie. There were 10 vendors – including 2 shoe vendors and dresses sales were limited to one location.

Three things keep me from raving about this feis – the concessions, the bathrooms and the admission process. There was only one concession stand open in the morning and for of us who needed/wanted coffee it wasn’t possible. There was only coffee maker and the lines were simply too long to wait through. By lunch time another concession opened and the lines were much smaller so that was somewhat of a consolation. I got my afternoon coffee and all was right with the world. Both concessions were cash only. The admissions process while very smooth required the payment a $10 of each adult attending the feis – again cash only. In this era of debit cards I don’t carry a lot of cash on me so I much prefer to the pay the family fee online with the registration. Last but very important – the bathrooms! With a feis capping at 1200 dancers (not to mention family members attending) there was only 1 – yes 1 – bathroom per gender. Dancers were urged to use a location other than bathroom to change in order to have enough space for those of us who needed to visit the necessary. I’m not sure if other buildings on the fairgrounds were open to the public and didn’t have time to find out.

We were fortunate to get a good camping area but then again we got there as the feis started and waited 2 ½ hours before her first dance. However had we waited until later we would have had pressed to find a descent spot. I think that’s true of most feisanna though.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised with this feis. It started on time, was well run, efficient and the volunteers were pleasant. Things that I found troublesome were not something the feis could control unless they found a new venue or went to a different feis management system like efeis or something similar. 24 hours we’re still waiting for personal results/comments to emailed on posted on FeisWeb and being new to this system I’m not sure when to expect them. Again given the fact that the results at the feis were posted quickly I’m assuming this might be something with FeisWeb but I’m not certain. We had a nice time, brought home some hardware and met nice people so over all I give this feis a B+. Our next stop – Cincinnati – the Queen City in two weeks. Til next time – Slainte!

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