Graham switched to a new venue this year. The feis took place at the St. Charles Convention Center -- it was a great choice.
Most of the stages were in the large hall, along with the vendors, several tables (which ended up being used for camping), and some of the concessions. More concessions were out in the hallway, and further down the hall. The restrooms were large and clean. Overall, there was plenty of room to spread out.
Once again, Graham made some really nice stages, coated with a mix of primer and chalkboard paint to help with slickness (although during Thalia's first dance one of the dancers twisted her ankle and hobbled off the stage, leaving me to wonder if her foot caught on the surface -- but I don't know of anyone else with the same issue, so maybe that girl simply landed wrong).
The only problem was in the stage scheduling. We arrived close to 7a.m. so the girls could get ready for ceili at 8a.m. They danced their ceili, then headed to their stages for their solo dances.
Thalia's stage moved briskly through the dances. She competed in seven solo dances, changed clothes, and was totally finished with the feis by about 11a.m.
Overall, she had a great feis. She medalled in a bunch of her Beginner 2 dances, got a 4th place in one of her Novice dances (she was thrilled to get anything -- even a token ribbon -- in her Novice dances, given that it was the first time she competed in that level).
On the other hand, AnnaBeth waited and waited and waited, watched friends dance, waited some more, and finally started dancing around 10a.m. By this time she was tired and hungry, yet too nervous to eat.
She started complaining that her foot hurt, and by the time she got to her hardshoe dances (sometime after lunch) she had a blister that popped. It didn't look that bad, but she was hobbling around to make it to the stage. She needed to place in hornpipe to make it into Novice in that dance, so we told her to try to make it through that dance and then we'd leave. She was signed up for another dance after that, but we ditched it (after she checked in for the hornpipe she was crying and saying "I wish I could just dance in my socks"; the stage manager was trying to console her, and asking me if this was her last dance -- I answered "it's going to be -- we've decided to skip the rest"). She ended up not even placing in the hornpipe -- her comments read that she needed to get up on her toes more -- which is exactly what she couldn't do due to the blister. Sigh. It was after 2 o'clock on a long, long day, she was in tears about the whole thing, hated the feis, hated everything ... heck, a LOT of the dancers were in tears by then. I think everyone had just reached a state of exhaustion, having been there and in a state of nervous anticipation for hours and hours.
(The next day her heel was purple and swollen. So apparently she wasn't just being dramatic about a blister; her foot was really hurt. We're grateful that she can go barefoot or in flipflops for a few days, and generally take it easy, not even walking very much.)
I do wish the younger girls could've gotten through their dances a little more quickly. I think if AnnaBeth had been finished as early as Thalia her day would've gone a lot better, injured heel or not. What is it with this age level that they often end up on the stages that drag on and on and on? Why not have the Under 9s on one stage and the Under 8s on another? Those are 2 huge groups, and splitting them up would help immensely.
After we got home we crashed. AnnaBeth took a nap (heck, I did, too). We ate normal, non-feis food. We looked at the personal feis results and comments on Feisworx. And as AnnaBeth was getting ready for bed she commented that it had been a pretty good day. Amazing what some sleep and food can do for one's perspective.