The Feis at the Falls, held Saturday in the historic Old Falls section of Niagara Falls, NY, has rapidly become a go-to feis for newbie dancers and elite-level champs alike. An all-star lineup of judges and musicians, friendly volunteers and a comfortable venue contributed to an overall jovial group of feis-goers of all ages and levels.

This year, the feis hosted the George Sweetnam Memorial Trophy, the ultra prestigious annual competition open to dancers younger than 13 who've placed first in the open championship level in the last calendar year. The worthy winner of "the belt" was Petri dancer Melanie Valdes. Her articulate toes must've mesmerized the panel of five judges -- I was personally impressed by the precision of her footwork and the complicated syncopated rhythms being battered out by her small frame during her set round.

"The belt" attracted plenty of top-tier dancers from across North America -- that's for sure -- but the feis also drew a brand new crew of Irish dancers. "First-time feisers" took to the stage early in the competition day for a feis debut of sorts. Nine adorable -- and extraordinarily talented! -- little tykes skipped and hopped two steps of the reel with a little help from Rince na Tiara's Mary Kay Heneghan, ADCRG. After winning over the hearts of just about everyone in the audience, the tiny dancers each received a special medal and a complementary mini-subscription to Feis America Magazine.

For a list of results from the feis, visit There will be plenty of photos from the feis in an upcoming issue of Feis America.

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