The Buffalo Shuffle

Marina and I shuffled off to Hamburg, NY last weekend for the Buffalo Feis. Normally we go to Detroit – both are the same day and equal distance from Cleveland so this year we gave Buffalo a shot. The drive was easy. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Hamburg which is right off the highway and five minutes from the feis site so it was very convenient and made up for the cost being $30 more the feis hotel. Our room was large enough for her to practice in and the pool was great but closed at 9pm. That was actually a good thing because Marina could swim all night. Truthfully I probably shouldn’t let her swim the night before a feis but it’s become a routine and if she doesn’t get the chance she’s crabby. I like a happy dancer so I let her do it.

The venue is the Erie County Fairgrounds and is actually quite nice. There’s ample parking, the facility is air conditioned with a concrete floor and clean! Not dusty and dirty like other feiseanna I’ve attended at fairgrounds (who know who you are). The feis organizers went out of their to post NO COOLERS,  CHAIRS & BLANKETS yet there were numerous campers. I was lucky to have a blanket in the car and a couple of families from another Cleveland area school save a spot for us while I went to the car to get the blanket and yes – the cooler. Camping areas were very small and tight limited to the roped off area in back of the bleachers. This area was also where used dresses could be displayed but access to them was limited. If you wanted to look at a dress you would have to climb over the ropes and across camping areas. Awards and vendors were housed in a large adjoining building that had plenty of room to move around. There were eight vendors plus a photographer and feis T-shirt suplier.

The feis itself started promptly and for the most part ran smoothly. The exception being stage 3 which had heavily populated competitions and took numerous breaks to catch up to other stages. Judges rotated stages in a timely fashion. The first round of Championship awards started approximately at 11am with the under 9 dancers. Food was available at one vendor and was reasonably priced (for the most part) my only complaint was paying $3 for one slice of pizza. Hamburgers were available for $3.50, chicken tenders & fries for $6.50 and soft drinks ranging from $2.00 – $3.00 depending on size. Results were posted very quickly.

Overall my impressions of the Buffalo Feis were very positive! It was an easy drive, ample parking, air conditioned, clean facility with several restrooms and efficiently run. For us the competition was tough. This came as advertised however as I was warned that our dancers have trouble against the schools from Buffalo and Canada. Would I do this feis again? A qualified yes! I’m qualifying it because for the past two years coming off the Akron/Cleveland weekend – not to mention the weeks of team practices preparing for Cleveland – I have a very tired dancer and will most likely not do either Buffalo or Detroit next year simply to give her a rest. We also met some very nice people and now can look forward to meeting up with them at upcoming feiseanna and social media – which for me adds to the fun of feising!

Look for my interviews with Doug Lowder, developer of a feis iPhone app, and musician Jemma O’Kane in the July issue of Irish Dance Magazine. Both interviews can be found on the Jukebox page. Til next time – Slainte!


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