Farrell Granath from Pender-Keady Academy
of Irish Dance in Connecticut
proudly wears her Irish dancing costume
which honors America!
Irish dancers from Canada, Mexico and across the United States of America broke out the red, white and blue today to celebrate America's birthday alongside the 2012 North American Irish Dancing Championships.

With costumes trending toward sparkles and sequins, the annual North American World Qualifying competition is an ideal time to showcase the United States of America's flag features.

Sean Patrick Dwyer and family ready for the Boys under 9 competition.

The Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America hosts the event which takes place every year over the 4th of July holiday, and this year the venue is smack in the middle of the United States in Chicago, Illinois.  A committee of dedicated irish dance teachers from Middle America have been working for more than a year to make sure that families of competitive dancers have every opportunity to enjoy Chicago outside of the Hyatt Regency and Sheraton hotels where the competitions and awards are held each day through Saturday, July 8th.

Regan Rankin dancers from the under 13 competition between rounds.

Read more:

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North American Irish Dancing Championships kick off in Chicago

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Katherine Malloy shows off today's 'uniform' for Mulhern Irish dancers
complete with sparkly blue flats and a flag hairbow

The sheer numbers of entrants in most of the female age groups require that the year be split into two groups, and birthdate determines which half of the group one is assigned to.  This results in two championships for most of the girls' age groups, where up to 150 or more Irish dancers may compete in a single group.  Dancers perform two rounds in each of the heavy and light shoe and about half are recalled to dance a third round.  After tabulation, awards are made which include a top percentage who is qualified to compete at the 2013 World Irish Dancing Championships which will be held in Boston.

Aidan Farrell and Bridget Murphy from McInerney in Massachusetts.

The 2012 North American Irish Dancing Championships began Tuesday with solo competitions for some of the larger groups including Girls under 10 and Girls under 15.  Competitions are divided by gender and age; while some of the country's youngest Open Champion dancers are permitted to compete in the under 8 category and the oldest group is that of Men over 20 and Ladies over 20, most events are for a specific year of age, i.e. 9 years turning 10 during calendar year 2012.

Patriotic dancers and fans from Donny Golden in New York!

Tuesday's competitions saw solo events in the Girls under 10 and Girls under 15 categories, as well as Ladies under 19 and Ladies under 20 competitions.  Afternoon fans were delighted with the stamina and power of the older male Irish dancers with the Men under 20 and Men over 20 events.  World, national and regional champions, many of whom perform professionally with Riverdance or Lord of the Dance, or serve as a student Irish dance teacher, vied for the 2012 North American Irish Dancing Championship titles while visiting with friends from around the world sidestage

Happy 4th of July from these three belles from North Carolina!
 Wednesday's competitions delighted fans and Irish dance enthusiasts with the youngest boys' events - under 8, under 9 and under 10.  Two large female groups- Girls under 13 and Girls under 17 - also performed today with the Ladies over 20 category displaying finely-executed choreography, grace and power with most having 10-15 years or more of dance instruction.

Celtic Steps in Colorado family decked out for Independence Day!

Lindsey Ferguson from Bell with her family between rounds.
For more information on the competitions, photos and results, visit Feis America LLC on the official 2012 North American Irish Dancing Championships Facebook page, and stay tuned here on IrishCentral's Irish Dance page for updates, photos and results.