Lake Geneva, WI and Questions about Feiseanna (Feis)


Sunday is my family day. The day I talk about my family or our life.

The past few days we have been in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for the Lavin-Cassidy Feis on Friday and Saturday. This was the first time we have been to Lake Geneva. We usually don’t go to this feis because it is in early March and weather in the Midwest can be unpredictable. This winter has been unusually mild here so we decided to try this feis for the first time.

The picture above is Lake Geneva. We drove through town to get the feeling of the area. It is a lovely little tourist town. The resort where the feis was held Grand Geneva Resort and Spa was at the edge of the town. It had lovely grounds with horse back riding, a water park, a spa, skiing and an amazing hotel.


The view from our room overlooked a nearby lake. It looks warm and inviting but it was 12 degrees this day! Eek!


Overlooking the bar and Cafe. There are several delicious restaurants to choose from. My daughter and I had an amazing steak dinner at the Chop House. Our service was impeccable (albeit a bit pushy with the suggestions at times) but attentive and able to answer all our questions. It was probably the best steak meal I have ever eaten.

The feis was held completely in the hotel which was wonderful because we were able to go back to our room if needed during the feis. I have had a few questions lately about feis so I thought I would answer a few questions.

How do you pronounce feis?

Feis rhymes with mesh. It generally refers to Irish dance competitions while its plural feiseanna refers to the cultural arts festival from which it comes. These can have baking contests, arts contests, and music contests in addition to the Irish dancing.

What is a feis like?

This is a bit more difficult to explain. They are held in convention centers, schools, ice rinks, or hotels. There are usually 5-8 stages of performers all dancing at the same time.  The dancers are from 4 or 5 years-old to adults. Each dance is leveled by age and dance level achieved. There are 1 to 3 judges for each dance depending on the level of the dance. It sure gets noisy when the stages are all on hard shoes at the same time!

Each dance school has a dance dress that the beginners, advanced beginners and most novice dancers wear. Each school dress is unique to its school. Once dancers achieve the upper levels they usually allowed to get their dress (or vest for boys). These are the fancy dresses that you see in many pictures. Dancers under 9 are not allowed to have any sparkles, gems or shiny cloth for their dresses. They are also not to wear makeup.

Over 10? Lots of bling! The higher the dance level the more bling you will usually see.

What is with the hair?

Most girls wear full wigs or bun wigs. Girls (or parents) used to have to curl their hair for competitions but now most girls wear wigs.

The tale is that girls in Ireland used to have dancing competitions and the girls that usually won had curly hair. Why? When they jumped the curly hair made it look like they were jumping higher when it bounced. So, it has become a tradition in Irish dance to have curly hair.

Do they always wear the same dress and hair to compete?

Sort of. One dress can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars. Some girls get new dresses every year especially at the upper levels. Others make them last about 2 to 3 dance seasons on average. Dresses usually are made with let out room to accommodate growing girls.

Some feis are called black and white feis or black out feis. These have rules particular to their feis that clothing is black and white (shorts or skirts, pants for boys) and possibly no wigs or makeup.


This weekend the first night was a black out feis with no wigs. My daughter wore a black tee shirt and skirt with her hair down. Her hair is naturally very curly. The second day she wore her dress and wig.

So, that’s a bit of information on feis. Any other questions?


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Tareau Barron says:

    Great journey. It’s good to see children participating in cultural arts. My only question us, What kind of food do you bring? Lmfao my greedy ass. Hahahahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. koolaidmoms says:

      For competitions? Irish soda bread, decorated cakes or Irish car bomb cakes and cookies. Lots of Irish whiskey in them! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tareau Barron says:


        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Marcie for this informative post! I always wondered how to pronounce it too. I had never heard of this kind of dancing/competition until I met you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. koolaidmoms says:

      Glad I could help!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Grattan says:

    Great information! I’ve been to a few feis but I never heard of the feiseanna. And I am curious now about a recipe for an Irish car bomb cake!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. koolaidmoms says:

      Lol! It’s a chocolate cake with Irish Whiskey. Will have to dig a recipe out! 😉


  4. fivecats says:

    Looks like lots of fun. I have a recipe for a Guinness chocolate cake, and make a Guinness beef stew for St. Patrick’s day. I am not fond of the term car bomb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. koolaidmoms says:

      I understand that.


  5. trkingmomoe says:

    That was interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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