Friday, February 20, 2009

Ozark Mountain Feis


One of the many expeditions I took during the two-week period I was without electricity, following the "Ozark Mountain Ice Storm of the Century" was to the "Ozark Mountain Feis". The Ozark Mountain Feis was held on the outer boundary of the ice storm (Chateau on the Lake in Branson, Missouri), so they were able to proceed with full electrical power as scheduled. If you are like me, you may not know the meaning of the word "Feis". According to Wikipedia, a Feis is a traditional Gaelic arts and culture festival. The plural form is "Feiseanna". The history of a Feis goes back to ancient Ireland, when communities placed great importance on local festivals where Gaels could come together in song, dance, music, theater, and sport. In modern times, the Feis is seeing a comeback, and the the World Competition for Irish Dance (called "Oireachtas") is even being held for the first time in the United States. The 2009 competition is scheduled for the city of brotherly love (aka, Philadelphia) for later this year. The event I attended was hosted by the McCafferty School of Irish Dance, which has locations in Little Rock, Fayetteville, and Fort Smith. Competitors were drawn from several nearby states, plus there were numerous vendor tables from throughout the U.S., selling all things Gaelic. I was amazed to see the prices on some of the brightly-colored dresses at the vendor exhibits---ranging from $1,100 - $1,500 (these prices were actually seen on previously-worn dresses, but they had the promise of "good karma" from a past competition, written on their price information tags). However, the dress is just the beginning of one's financial commitment----add to this the price of special dance shoes, special "poodle" knee socks, the mandatory curly, bouncy wigs all the girls were wearing, dance lessons, travel to competitions, and you have a somewhat "Big Ticket" hobby for a youngster. Yet, I am a big proponent of encouraging physical activity in our youth (as a measure to reduce the childhood obesity epidemic in our country's young people), so I would have to give this a positive score for parental consideration. Plus, when you see how darling the lads and lassies look all dressed up in Feis attire, you think you know the origin of the term "feisty" to describe a vivacious young girl or boy! And don't forget what Scripture says on the topic of dance: "Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp." (Psalm 149:3) If you would like to attend a Feis, but can't make it to Philadelphia---you're in luck! There is another one, The Little Rock Feis, scheduled for April 25,2009, at the Statehouse Convention Center. (see www.ArkansasFeis.com for more information). I don't know if you will find a "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" there, as told in Irish legends, but you will certainly find a rainbow of colors, and "miles of smiles"!! Dance on!
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