Accompanying the smell of fried potato chips and elephant ears was the sound of Irish heels kicking up a little authentic Irish culture in Rock Hill on Thursday.
The dancers marked the beginning of the city's annual St. Patrick's Day festivities on Main Street.
"It's not called riverdancing," a group of teenaged Irish dancers from the Walsh Kelley School of Irish Dancing were sure to point out before their performance.
Sisters Kimberly and Colleen Chuppe have been dancing for only a few years, but on stage, they danced in unison like pros, taking to their toes like seasoned ballerinas and stomping out the beats of the jigs playing behind them.
In addition to skill, the dancers also displayed massive wigs of curls, heavy makeup and colorful dresses, important aspects of the performance, they said.
Irish dancing, said Kimberly, a serious 17-year-old from Charlotte, is like "an athletic beauty pageant. You gotta have the moves, but you have to have the look too."
Dancing also allows them to share a part of their culture, she said.
On stage, Colleen, 15, and Kimberly danced with Abbey Lee, 14, of York. Abbey's mom, Leslie, stood by watching.
"It's a big commitment, a family commitment" to have her daughter in Irish dancing, she said.
The girls practice four nights a week for as long as 1 to 3 hours. Competition carries the dancers to meets around the country and world.
Their level of accomplishment shows in their dress. Beginners wear simple white and black uniforms. Dancers at the next level wear a more colorful uniform. At the next level, the dancers get solo outfits with complicated patterns, sequins and ruffles - their own look.
But aside from the competitive aspects of Irish dancing, the tradition also has had an impact on the dancers' families.
Shannon Belle Keohane, 11, is 100 percent Irish, her father, Jeff, said.
For their family, that's important. For Shannon, who's learning a traditional dance right now, Irish dancing just feels like the right fit.
"It's the activity for me," not being the "softball or soccer type."
The son of an Irish immigrant, Norman Hillis has held on to his Irish heritage in small ways, mostly by celebrating St. Patrick's Day every year and keeping Irish things around the house.
But now that his granddaughter Ann Perry, 9, is an Irish dancer - the first in the family - he and his wife, Janet, have another thing Irish to look forward to.
"We have become reacquainted with our Irish traditions," he said.