A few weeks ago Rick was down in Fort Smith, Arkansas staying at the downtown Holiday Inn on business, and discovered that, first of all, it's a fairly nice hotel in a fairly nice town, and second of all, it's about the same distance from St. Louis as Dayton. So he suggested we try out the River Valley Feis.
It happened that Rick had another business trip to the area, so we drove down on Friday and met him in Fort Smith.
The Holiday Inn was indeed nice. We had a huge room, they brought a refrigerator up to our room when we requested it, they had a free buffet breakfast for feis-goers (including custom omelets) ...
BUT they had only one working elevator on Saturday morning, and no alternative staircase. Two hundred feis-goers trying to get to breakfast, get back to their rooms to get those bulky dresses, then back to the feis, all at pretty much the exact same time. It wasn't pretty.
But somehow we all made it to the feis. Well, all except the musician. I wasn't around for the announcement, but apparently there was some sort of problem with transportation, and the sole musician they were planning on using didn't show up. They started out using CDs, which was okay for the ceilis, but got a little weird for the solos -- for one thing, the CD track would sometimes end while kids were dancing, and for another thing it got really, really tedious listening to the same track over and over and over again a hundred times. In the afternoon one of the judges started playing accordian -- I don't know if they had taken that long to find a 3rd judge to fill in for him while he was a musician, or how they managed to finagle this. It was a relief, though, to get back to "normal".
The feis took place in the Ft. Smith Convention Center, which is attached to the Holiday Inn. A huge stage had been erected on one end of the room; the stage was divided into three sections, with railings along the back. In front of that were about 90-100 chairs for people to sit in, and then there were numerous round tables for people to put their stuff on. This is what it looked like from the doorway (about the midway point in the room) looking towards the stage -- click to make bigger, if interested:
They had put cards around to mention the various schools. We found a table that had our school's name on it, and claimed it as our table:
The day started with ceilis. Including an adult mixed ceili that did 3 Tunes! Wow, they looked like they had so much fun. I talked to a couple of the people on the team afterwards, and they said they just do that one for fun, although they also have a Ladies Ceili team that competes at the Southern Oireachtas. If you don't know what 3 Tunes is, here's a YouTube of it, done by a different group:
I'd sign up for a ceili group that did that one!
They also had a bunch of family groups, like this family of 4 that danced together:
Anyway, once all of the ceilis were out of the way, we settled down and danced some solos. Our objectives at this feis were:
Thalia get a 1st in Jig and/or Traditional Set
Annabeth get a 1st in any dance
Thalia dance a couple of dances in Open.
The only one we achieved was that Thalia danced a couple of dances in Open, sigh. She got 3rd in each one, which was pretty cool. But those 1st place medals were still elusive; Thalia got a 1st in Treble Jig, but she's done that before so she didn't really care.
Lunch was provided by the Holiday Inn for a reasonable price. Action shot of Annabeth eating lunch:
Action shot of Annabeth being annoyed that I'm taking pictures of everything:
Rick was delighted that he was able to go online to keep listen to the Purdue-Michigan State game during the feis (another dad was envious of his setup).
EXTREMELY COOL THING THIS FEIS DID:
When if came time to collect medals, the dancers simply showed their number to a person who had a laptop. The person enetered the number in, and voila, all of their awards were displayed. No paging through various folders to verify which medal went with which dance. It took about 10 seconds per dancer, and was soooo nice -- every feis should do this!
Overall, we give this feis a thumbs up!