Monday, October 13, 2008

Gem City Feis

Friday afternoon we headed to Dayton for the Gem City Feis. Directions from here to Dayton: go east on Interstate 70. Pretty simple, eh?

When we got to the Interstate 75 we took a brief detour (about 2 miles) to stop at the Drury Inn and register for the feis. Then back on I70 to a Holiday Inn Express -- not on the feis list of hotels, but just as close to the feis, very new, very quiet, very nice.

The feis was at the airport, a bit north of I70 and just off of I75. It started at 9am with figures followed by Treble Reels, neither of which we were involved in. We arrived about 9, bypassed the long line waiting to check in (having done so at the night before), and dumped our stuff in the huge camping area in the middle of the building, which appeared to be a converted airplane hangar. We settled in and watched the other competitions, waiting for ours.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

It became apparent that AnnaBeth was once again on the Stage from Hell. By noon she had danced twice -- Thalia had finished all of her soft shoe in that time. We had lunch in the lobby (it seemed that most people didn't realize there were concessions in the lobby -- the selection there was a little nicer than inside the main room, although they could've easily sold dozens more fruit-and-cheese plates if they hadn't run out of them so soon). Small televisions had been set up, tuned to football -- we were in football country, so this was quite important. Really, you expect to see people at a feis decked out in all sorts of Irish garb; it's a little different to see them decked out in support of Ohio State (including one girl in a mini-cheerleader outfit).

After lunch the long slog of the afternoon began, when suddenly an announcement was made that all of the Under 8 and Under 9 Beginner 2 competitions were being taken to the now-empty OC stage. The entire group of 40 to 50 girls zipped down to the other end of the building, followed by parents. The 2 groups were lined up on the stage back to back -- under 8s facing one way, under 9s the other. One musician, 2 adjudicators. The musician started playing hornpipe; the girls danced 3 at a time (most of the competitions had been danced 2 at a time). It looked like a lesson in how to get 4 dozen dancers through a competition in 10 minutes. Then practically without pause they danced Traditional Set. Presto -- done! Rick's theory is that someone looked at the clock and realized that the Ohio State football game was going to start soon -- families involved in those particular groups were able to change clothes, collect results, and get out the door by kick-off.

Thalia's stage didn't have such dramatics going on (although 2 dancers did manage to run into each other while dancing -- I've said before that sometimes it looks like a game of chicken up there on stage, and that just proved my point).

In the end, AnnaBeth got the elusive win in her hornpipe, the only win she needed to start 2009 with all dances in Novice. Both of our dancers received a couple of medals and a few ribbons. Thalia had competed at Novice level in 4 of her dances, and was pleased to get anything in those dances.

Back into the car, back on I70, and point to the west for the long drive home. Will we go to this feis again next year? It's a long drive, but we liked the general atmosphere. It was a little weird to be at a feis where we didn't know anyone (at one point I started to remind AnnaBeth to make sure she didn't stand next to anyone else from our school during competition, then realized that the only way she could do that was to go find Thalia), but people were generally friendly. It's certainly easy to get to and to find a parking place, which is a plus. And we always love it when the organizers are flexible enough to move large groups around to speed up the competitions. Overall, we liked it and are likely to be back.

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