Rochester Feis Review

http://www.flickr.com/photos/99336009@N02/9360800402/A week or so ago we had the pleasure of going to the Rochester Feis in Rochester, NY. We’ve been to several New York feiseanna and for the most part they have been an enjoyable experience even if DD doesn’t do as well as she hoped. A friend of mine helps with Rochester and I’m hoping this will be a fair review of the feis. So let’s do it.

We chose to stay at the Hyatt in downtown Rochester which was one of the recommended hotels and a short drive to the feis venue. We got in too late to partake of any of the hotel’s amenities and left too early for breakfast but I did see a buffet being offered but not included “free” of charge. The hotel also had a parking deck and the $4.00 charge was included on the hotel bill providing you brought your ticket in for validation.

We travelled with friends who had to be at the venue earlier than us because PC was dancing youngest to oldest and they wanted to get settled before she danced. I’m glad we got there early because parking is sparse.

The Rochester venue is the Armory, a majestic building built in 1905 and a very cool place to have a feis. However, it’s located on a very busy street and the small parking lot in back was restricted to the Feis volunteers. Fair enough! Parking for the rest of us was located in a lot across the street or in the lot of an abandoned school next to the venue and that lot was small. Since we got there early we were able to park in the school lot and didn’t take long before that lot and the overflow lot in back of the building was full. I noticed several families pulling into the lot and dropping dancers off then having to drive to find another place to park creating a dangerous situation with so many people coming and going and getting around is tight. The school parking lot also does not present a positive experience for those of us new to the feis. The first thing you see when you get out of the car is boarded up windows, overgrown grass and weeds, a chain link fence and faded plastic play equipment which was creepy and prompted my daughter to tell me she was scared.

The venue itself is air-conditioned with ample space for stages, room to move around and vendors however very, very little space to camp on the main floor itself. In fact when checking in we were told that camping was upstairs which is fine because there is arena seating around the perimeter but there’s no elevator – at least I didn’t see one and there didn’t appear to be restrooms upstairs either. So that meant a lot of climbing stairs which doesn’t bother me because I look at it as exercise but for someone with mobility issues it’s a problem. The only solution I can see is to get there very early and grab the few camping spots on the floor if possible. Another issue is that the venue has several stairs to climb to get into the front of the building and only had a one set of doors open making coming and going a little tight. There may have been a more accessible entrance on the side of the building but I did not take the time to look for one. Registrations tables, awards and results were easy to navigate.

The feis itself ran smoothly for the most part although it did start about 20 minutes late by my watch but it’s a rare occasion for me when a feis actually starts on time. This feis had 2 judges per grade stages who alternated judging the competitions and ate lunch at the table so things kept moving. The judges at our stage asked for a 15 minute break in the afternoon but the competitions kept moving after that. My daughter started dancing around 11am and was done by 2:30pm and that’s a quick day for us.

Special dance competitions and treble reels took place at the end of the day and I think that hurt these events as they were not heavily populated – most likely because a lot of dancers were finished and left. Since Rochester doesn’t take a lunch break I’m not sure how this could be done differently unless they ran these comps around noon giving the judges a quick break.

The results were hit and miss. They were coming up quickly at the beginning then came to a dead stop around noon and returned to being posted quickly around two. I’m not sure if there were computer issues, there was a back log of results coming in to be posted or someone took a lunch break but it took an hour for one of my daughter’s results to be posted and of course that was the result we were most interested in.

Although there were two areas for food vendors only one was open creating a bit of line during the peak lunch time but it seemed to move quickly. Food options were plentiful from breakfast through lunch items and some of the breakfast sandwiches were available throughout the day. The vendor also stayed open for the duration of the feis – Cleveland take note.  Pricing was a little iffy however with one sign pricing a bottle of water at $4.00 and another saying it was $2.00. Even the food staff was unsure which was correct as my friend was told $4.00 and the family sitting next to us getting a bottle of water for $2.00. I had water in the car and went out to stuff my oversized purse with several bottles for us. Other prices were inconsistent as well – $3.00 for a slice of pizza then $8.00 for chicken fingers and fries. Burgers ran about $5.00 and coffee was $2.00 a cup but $1.00 for a refill if you brought the cup back. There were signs for beer but it was not being sold because this event involved children. OK I get that but it’s an Irish dance event……

Other points of interest include the dress resale room located on the first floor which is small but worked for the venue. Restrooms are located on either side of the first floor and never seemed to have a line and as a woman that’s always a good thing! They also have very cool wooden doors and look as if they were part of a locker system at one point. The rooms were clean in the early part of the day but by the end of the day paper towels were overflowing in the trash cans. The seats also had a thick layer of dust on the edge which fortunately we noticed before my daughter sat down as her dress has a white skirt. 

Overall this wasn’t a bad feis – it was run well with the exception being the mid day delay in posting results. The negative points  have more to do with the venue  itself which may be out of the feis committee’s control.  I doubt that there’s anything they can do about the condition of the school building and the adjacent parking lot next door. On a personal note I would like to see them place 50% of the dancers because – being our luck – DD missed placing in 3 of her 4 dances by 1 place and it’s always nice to bring home hardware for your efforts but the judges comments actually showed her placements so we are considering a 4th, two 5ths and a 7th plus nice comments a good day.

I’m willing to give this feis another try and will most likely attend the Young School Feis in October which also takes place at the Armory only next time I think I’ll park across the street.

We’re off to Canada on Friday for this weekend’s St. Catharine’s Feis. We’ve never been to a Canadian Feis and have heard nice things about this feis so we’re looking forward to the adventure which I will happily share!

Til next time – Slainte!

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1 Comment »

  1. […] without further ado, if you want to know more about the Rochester Feis, please see the feis review on Confessions of a Feis Mom’s […]

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