Our original plan was for me to take the kids to the Ozark Mountain Feis in Branson by myself while Rick stayed here and did guy-type things.
But Thursday night we decided that wasn't going to happen due to weather. Heck, people from Arkansas weren't even showing up at the Arkansas basketball game on Thursday night, which was practically a sign of the Apocalypse. So Rick arranged to take a half-day off of work on Friday and drive with us in his 4-wheel drive, assuming we actually went at all.
We spent Friday morning checking the weather, checking Modot road reports, and I called McCafferty (the school hosting the feis) to ask if they were still planning to have it. The word was yes, it's going to happen -- we later found out that McCafferty people went up to Branson on Thursday night to make sure they could get there.
We left at about 2pm, got there just as it was getting really dark around 6pm (which was about the heaviest part of the snowstorm).
The town was practically shut down. It was amazing. Rick drove past our hotel and did a U-turn on the main strip at 6pm on a Friday night -- folks, you don't do a U-turn on the Branson strip on Friday night because the traffic is too heavy. But, really, practically no one was around. Most restaurants were closed. We ended up eating at the Rib Crib because it was pretty much the only choice other than Taco Bell (Wendy's and McDonald's were closed) or the food selections at Walmart.
We did stop by Walmart to get microwave popcorn and look at a snow shovel for the car, since we'd forgotten to bring one. This is the crowd at Walmart:
Pretty much had the place to ourselves -- there were hardly any employees in the place, let alone customers.
Anyway, Rib Crib is a great place to eat. We'll be back there. The waitress commented that they had wanted to close at 7pm so they could all try to get home, but people started coming in just then.
We stayed at Holiday Inn Express. I think there were maybe 3 or 4 families in the entire hotel -- I know 2 other families stayed there for the feis. Since the hotel was so deserted they gave us an upgrade to a king suite with a whirlpool in the room:
Much discussion ensued about how cool it would be to have a Jacuzzi in our house. (Yes, they're wearing swimsuits in the whirlpool.)
The next morning we headed over to the Convention Center for the feis. The feis was in a huge room:
But of course hardly anyone was there because Arkansas (or parts thereof) had declared a state of emergency.
The bad part of the large area with few people in it was that it was really COLD. The worst of it was next to the giant roller door behind the stages. AnnaBeth spent much of her time offstage bundled up:
(I just got the piece of fleece from Hancock's Friday night and haven't had time to figure out what I'm going to make out of it -- looks like it may turn into a blanket.)
Thalia spent her offstage time as the feis version of Fang from the Maximum Ride series. ( I was directed to take this photo so she could send it to a friend who is also a FanGirl.)
Okay, other than the weather and the weird behavior of our kids, how was the feis? Great. The competitions whipped along at an amazing pace, we loved having all the competitions right there together (no worry about missing a dance going on in another room because ALL the dances were right there together).
We felt bad for the kids whose 1st place medals and trophies didn't really "count" because they didn't have enough dancers show up -- it's apparently really, really tough to merge things on the fly when you discover that a bunch of competitors couldn't make it. They tried to do it with a couple of groups, and it apparently resulted in so much confusion about who was supposed to be on which stage when that, given that they were short volunteers to run the stages anyway, it was logistically difficult.
Our 2 dancers did come home with some medals, and even a trophy, both having managed to get a coveted 1st place score. That made a lot of the hardship of the trip seem a little more worthwhile.
One bad spot (other than how cold the place was during the morning, although it started warming up by noon) was that the concessions were really marginal. The people running the concessions were great -- very friendly and helpful. But the food? Well, we didn't die from it, and I'd like to think there were supply problems due to the weather.
This is a feis we will attend again. Frankly, we plan to attend all the McCafferty school feiseanna. Although 2 of them aren't in our region (and therefore don't count for Oireachtas qualification) they seem to be well-run feiseanna. The people in charge seem to be able to deal with the oddities that arise on feis-day with grace, such as when the musician didn't show up at the River Valley feis. I wish we could package some of that common sense and knowhow to take with us to some future feisanna, if you know what I mean ....