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Furry convention

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The Dealers Den and fursuit parade at Anthrocon 2006

A furry convention (also furry con or fur con) is a formal gathering of members of the furry fandom — people who are interested in the concept of fictional non-human animal characters with human characteristics. These conventions provide a place for fans to meet, exchange ideas, transact business and engage in entertainment and recreation centered on this concept. Originating in California, United States, during the mid-1980s, there are now over 40 annual furry conventions worldwide, mostly in North America and Europe.[1][2] As of 2017, the largest furry convention is Midwest FurFest in suburban Chicago, Illinois.[3] It had a self-reported attendance of 11,019 in 2019.[4]

Furry conventions offer a range of volunteer-led programming, usually focusing on anthropomorphic art, crafts, music and literature. Some raise money for charity.[5] Attendees often dress up in fursuits and wear artistic name badges for identification, though the majority do not.[6] They may also spend money on the work of amateur and professional artists, both directly and at auction.[7]

Origin and growth[edit]

Furry conventions started in mid-1986 with parties at popular science fiction conventions, such as Westercon and BayCon in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over time, these parties split off into conventions of their own, starting with ConFurence 0 in 1989.[8] Attendance at furry conventions has been growing, with the number of conventions, total attendance of all conventions and maximum size of a single convention all doubling over the period 2000–2006.[1]

Furry conventions sometimes start out as furmeets, where groups of local fans meet at a regular location, often on a scheduled basis. As the local community grows, these groups may put on events that attract dealer attention or significant fan activity and which become recognized as fully-fledged conventions. Other conventions spring up in the wake of discontinued events; for example, Califur was founded in 2004 following the final ConFurence in 2003, in order to keep a furry convention in the Los Angeles Basin.[9]

Activities[edit]

Furry fans prepare for a race at Midwest FurFest 2006

Convention programming includes presentations, panels, workshops and tutorials on anthropomorphic culture, from literature, fiction and art to science, technology and spirituality. The convention will often provide space for stand-up comedy routines by entertainers like Uncle Kage and Alkali Bismuth; filk music, many kinds of gaming, and roleplaying sessions, as well as numerous puppeteering and performing arts events.[10][11] A unifying theme is common for larger events.[12]

Most conventions will feature some kind of an art show, in which artists' work is displayed, often for direct purchase or auction during the convention. There will often be a "Dealers' Den" where art and comic book distributors and other merchants can sell their wares for a fee, and an Artists' Alley where individual artists are given space for no fee or a token fee, usually on the condition that they sell only their own work.[13] Artists may also trade art between each other using sketchbooks. Erotic art is typically allowed if kept separate from other pieces, and shown only to adult attendees; a few conventions are rated strictly PG-13. Individual transactions are relatively small (usually around US$10–$50 for sketches or badges, $10–$200 for auction pieces), but the total can approach US$100,000 at the largest events (excluding professional dealers).[7]

Major conventions tend to have a rave on at least one evening. Often there is a "fursuit-friendly" dance prior to the main event, with raised lighting and slower music to offset fursuiters' reduced vision and mobility. The use of glowsticks and illuminated poi are popular once the lights are dimmed.[14] A furry convention is also an opportunity to socialize, and private parties for subgroups of the fandom are common.[15]

Conventions with significant numbers of fursuiters may offer an event known as the furry games, furry races, or critterlympics. These focus on feats of dexterity suited to multiple players in teams, such as dragging a sled filled with plush toys or other fursuiters around a marked track, or racing back and forth while tethered to one another with a hula hoop.

Some conventions have established charity auctions, which (in the US) usually raise several thousand dollars for the convention's yearly charity, typically a wildlife refuge, nature reserve, animal shelter, sanctuary or rescue group.[16][17] Organizers may also donate from the convention's own funds. In total, furry conventions raised over US$50,000 for charity in 2006,[5] with Further Confusion and Anthrocon raising over US$60,000 throughout their history.[16][18]

Attendees[edit]

Furry convention paraphernalia. From left, clockwise - event convention badge with affiliation ribbons, personal convention badge, event badge, convention books, pocket schedules

Attendees include artists and dealers offering products and services for sale to fans, and those who wish to buy them. Others come for the programming, or to meet friends or other furry fans in general. Many attend for all of these reasons. Some later publish a con report detailing their experiences.

Attendees of major conventions receive a bag with the convention book (or conbook), a lavishly illustrated volume featuring themed artwork, fiction and articles submitted by members and the Guests of Honor, along with a description of the event's programming, staff, rules, guests and any charity being supported by the convention.[19][20] Local restaurant information and a combination pocket schedule and map may also be included. Sponsors often receive additional items such as T-shirts, pins or ribbons, as well as faster registration badge pick-up and on-site meals (some conventions provide a con suite with basic refreshments for all members).[21] They may also be displayed prominently in convention publications.[9]

Fans may wear a full or partial fursuit or another costume to express their identity and entertain others,[15] though typically less than 15% of attendees bring a costume, and few of these wear them all the time.[6] Others may wear accessories such as ears or a tail, particularly outside the main convention area.[15] Nearly all will wear one or more custom convention badges featuring a depiction of their anthropomorphic persona, some with attached ribbons providing an indicator of social status, such as a notice of affiliation, or sponsorship of the convention. Sales of such accessories form a part of the commerce at furry conventions.[12]

Attendees under the age of majority are commonly allowed to attend with a notarized parental permission slip or accompanied by an adult.[21] Eurofurence is one exception, admitting only those above 18.[22] Underage attendees are usually given a distinctive badge to allow staff and dealers to restrict access to mature content. Government-issued photo ID is usually required.[23]

Organization and staffing[edit]

Artists Alley at Anthrocon 2006

Furry conventions are usually run and staffed by volunteers,[24] though venues may require certain activities to be contracted out. Event funding typically relies on convention registrations.[25] Many of the larger conventions are incorporated as non-profit organizations, usually to achieve tax-exempt status and safeguard the organizers' personal assets - in the US, some are 501(c)(3) charities, while others are registered as recreational clubs. The largest events may require up to a hundred volunteers, not including gofers.[20] Volunteers are thanked for their participation during the closing ceremonies, which are usually well-attended, and often receive T-shirts or other benefits.

Timing and duration[edit]

Most furry conventions take place over a weekend, with events scheduled between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. Saturday is typically the busiest day, as most fans must return home on Sunday. One-day passes are sometimes sold at a reduced price.[21]

Reasons for this include:

  • Most fans would have to take a vacation from work or study to attend an event held during the workweek.
  • Transportation costs are often lower for weekend travelers.
  • Hotels have few business travelers during the weekend, making it much easier to reserve a block of rooms and secure space for programming at a reduced price.
  • Many fans are students and have little discretionary income, so hotel and convention fees are important factors.[26][27]

As a given convention expands in growth over the years, increased demand for programming often results in events scheduled late into the night. Convention activities may also be extended to Thursday and early Friday for early arrivals. Unofficial activities are frequently coordinated by groups of people on Sunday evening and Monday morning, usually open to anyone who wishes to join, and may include bowling, bar hopping, visits to arcades, shopping malls, theme parks, zoos, dinner or morning brunch.

Media and public perception[edit]

Conway talks to KDKA-TV reporters outside Anthrocon 2006.

One public misconception, popularized by the CSI episode "Fur and Loathing", is that furry conventions are places for people to dress up as animals and perform sexual acts with each other.[28] In an article about furries, Vanity Fair described some hotel guests as "stunned", with some calling convention-goers "freaks", "blatant homosexuals", and various derogatory terms. Some U.S. Army personnel present during the same convention described attendees as "a little unusual" and "people that have problems", while others considered the event "something nice to bring kids to."[29]

Events[edit]

Active events[edit]

Attendee at Anthrocon 2008
Next/Last held Name Place Theme
TBA 2022 Anthro New England Boston, Massachusetts, United States Back to the 90s
TBA 2022 Anthro New England`
Founded in 2015 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, originally at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge, it currently takes place at the Boston Park Plaza. Anthro New England became the 9th largest furry convention in 2018, with 2,050 attendees.[30]
1–4 July 2021 Anthrocon Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States Aesop's Fables
1–4 July 2021 Anthrocon`
Founded in 1997 in Albany, New York and moved to Philadelphia two years later. It currently takes place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, where it has been every year since 2006, and is the second-largest furry convention to-date behind Midwest Furfest, with over 7,000 attendees annually since 2016.[31]
3–6 June 2021 Biggest Little Fur Con Reno, Nevada, United States Neo-Reno
3–6 June 2021 Biggest Little Fur Con`
Founded in 2013, hosted at the Grand Sierra Resort. Currently the 3rd most attended furry convention behind Anthrocon and Midwest Furfest, drawing over 5,000 attendees in 2017.[32]
TBA 2021 CanFURence Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Steampunk by rail
TBA 2021 CanFURence`
First held in late 2016 as a spiritual successor to Ottawa's previous furry convention, C-ACE, in 2007. It is the second largest furry convention in the Ontario province, after Furnal Equinox in Toronto, drawing over 568 attendees in 2019.[33]
28 July–1 August 2021 Eurofurence Berlin, Germany Welcome to Tortuga - On the High Seas
28 July–1 August 2021 Eurofurence`
Founded in 1995, this European convention has been held in Germany for seventeen of its twenty years, the latter of which making the furry convention the longest-running active convention. Other hosted countries are Sweden, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. Managed by Eurofurence e.V., Eurofurence 23 drew over 2,500 attendees.[34][35]
TBA 2021 Furrydelphia King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, United States Celtic Knights
TBA 2021 Furrydelphia`
Founded in 2017 in the Philadelphia area and held in the Valley Forge Casino Resort Radisson since 2019.[36]
7–9 May 2021 FurDU (Furry Down Under) Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia Mad Science!
7–9 May 2021 FurDU (Furry Down Under)`
Currently the largest furry convention in Australia, the convention is known for its beach culture due to being only metres from the shore. Since 2013 the convention has been held at the Mantra on View, attendance reached capacity in 2019 with 850 attendees.[37]
25–28 March 2021 Furry Fiesta Dallas, Texas, United States Oceanic Adventure
25–28 March 2021 Furry Fiesta`
One of two furry conventions in the Texas area. In its inaugural year, the convention sponsored the Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE). 2017's event drew over 3,000 attendees and raised over $25,000 for CARE.[38][39]
TBA 2021 Furry Migration Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States Road Trip!
TBA 2021 Furry Migration`
Founded in 2013 and first held in 2014 at the Ramada Minneapolis Airport Hotel. It is currently held at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis.[40]
TBA 2021 Furry Weekend Atlanta Atlanta, Georgia, United States The Enchanted Forest
TBA 2021 Furry Weekend Atlanta`
Furry Weekend Atlanta has united furries from around the world for nine years. It is currently the fourth largest furry convention, drawing over 4,000 attendees in 2017.[41]
TBA 2022 Further Confusion San Jose, California, United States Neo San Jose
TBA 2022 Further Confusion`
Further Confusion is an annual 5-day furry convention. Started in 1999, it was built to be the bay area's flagship furry event. The 2020 event hosted 4,509 attendees and raised nearly $20,500 for the Billy DeFrank Center of Silicon Valley.[42]
6–8 August 2021 Megaplex Orlando, Florida, United States All aboard!
6–8 August 2021 Megaplex`
Megaplex is an annual 3-day furry convention regularly held at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida since 2019. Inaugurated in 2002 as "Pawpet Megaplex", it is the only furry convention held in the Sunshine State, drawing over 3,000 attendees and raising over $40,000 for charity in 2019.[43]
3–5 September 2021 Mephit Furmeet Olive Branch, Mississippi, United States Celebrating Camp Mephit!
3–5 September 2021 Mephit Furmeet`
One of the few furry conventions in the Southern United States. Occurring on Labor Day weekend in the greater Memphis area, this convention sponsors Tiger Haven as its convention charity. 2010 marked the first year that Mephit Furmeet was held in Olive Branch, Mississippi, a suburb of Memphis.[44]
3–5 December 2021 Midwest FurFest Rosemont, Illinois, United States TBA
3–5 December 2021 Midwest FurFest`
A yearly convention in the Chicago metro area which started in 2000 as a spinoff of Duckon, a Chicago-based science fiction convention. In 2019, Midwest Furfest had a reported 11,019 attendees, making it the largest furry convention. In 2014, a chlorine bomb was set-off at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare Hotel where the convention was being held. This attack led to 19 people being hospitalized and the evacuation of the facility.[45][46]
TBA 2021 Motor City Furry Con Novi, Michigan, United States Visions of the Future
TBA 2021 Motor City Furry Con`
Founded in 2013 in Metro Detroit after the discontinuation of another convention in the area, Furry Connection North. The convention attracts more than 1,000 furries to Detroit and has raised over US$45,000 for Pets for Vets since its inaugural convention in 2014. In 2017, Pets for Vets ambassador Cheryl Wassus took her 1-year old dog to the convention in misunderstanding, an experience her son shared on Twitter.[47]
TBA 2021 Super Furry Fusion Shanghai, China TBA
TBA 2021 Super Furry Fusion`
First held in 2018 with nearly 2,500 attendees, Super Furry Fusion is a semiannual furry convention held in Shanghai every summer and winter.[48][49]
TBA 2021 VancouFur Vancouver, BC, Canada Neon City
TBA 2021 VancouFur`
VancouFur has been Vancouver's furry convention since 2012. It had its sixth furry convention on Canada's west coast in 2017, having raised over $3,000 for the local charity Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society. The 2016 event was known for sharing the Executive Hotel with Syrian refugees.[50][51][52]

Discontinued events[edit]

Last held Name Place
19–21 May 2017 Califur Pomona, California, United States
19–21 May 2017 Califur`
Founded in 2004, Califur is the furry convention successor to the first furry convention Confurence held in 1989. With 1,393 attendees in 2017, Califur is the largest furry convention in Southern California. Located on the same grounds in Los Angeles as the Los Angeles County Fairplex, Califur has had many musical attendees at the convention from Los Angeles radio station KROQ's lineup for Weenie Roast which happens at the same time of year.[53][54]
25–27 April 2003 ConFurence Burbank, California, United States
25–27 April 2003 ConFurence`
The first exclusive furry convention since 1989, ConFurence was cancelled after holding its 15th edition in 2003. Chairman Darrel L. Exline said he couldn't continue to organize the event, as it took too much time, money, and energy and resulted in lost friendships.[55]
23–25 February 2018 Confurgence Melbourne, Australia
23–25 February 2018 Confurgence`
Formed in 1999 as MiDFur and renamed as Confurgence in 2014, Confurgence is a furry convention which takes place in Melbourne. Since being cancelled in 2019, the convention is officially on hiatus.[56]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Timeline of furry conventions with attendance numbers, derived in part from the Anthropomorphic Fandom Convention Information Sheet
  2. ^ Al Kratina (26 July 2007). "Finally comfortable in their own fur". Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007.
  3. ^ Sonious (Tantroo McNally) (4 December 2017). "Midwest FurFest usurps Anthrocon's record and becomes the world's largest furry convention". Flayrah. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Midwest FurFest 2019 Metrics—Thanks to all our attendees for making this possible — We couldn't have done it without you!". Midwest FurFest. 20 January 2020. Retrieved 13 June 2020 – via official Facebook account.
  5. ^ a b Anthrocon: $8407 Archived 9 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine; Further Confusion: $15000 Archived 30 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine; Midwest FurFest: $13049; Morphicon: $556; Mephit FurMeet: $12121; FurFright: $1631 - see WikiFur's timeline of charity donations for other years
  6. ^ a b At Midwest FurFest 2006, 213 of 1441 attendees participated in the Fursuit Parade (post by registration coordinator on 20 November 2006), while 353 of 2,849 wore suits at Anthrocon 2007
  7. ^ a b $82.581.35 at Anthrocon 2006 (Conway, Samuel (17 May 2007). "Anthrocon, Inc. Form 990 for 2006-2007" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 February 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2007., attachment 1)
  8. ^ Patten, Fred (15 July 2012). "Retrospective: An Illustrated Chronology of Furry Fandom, 1966–1996". Flayrah. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  9. ^ a b Califur. "Califur III — About Us". Archived from the original on 23 July 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
  10. ^ Anthrocon (29 March 2006). "Events at Anthrocon". Retrieved 25 November 2006.
  11. ^ Further Confusion. "Further Confusion - 2007 Events". Archived from the original on 25 November 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
  12. ^ a b Parry, Laurence "GreenReaper". Furry fans flock to Further Confusion 2007, Wikinews, 6 February 2007. Retrieved on 19 May 2007.
  13. ^ Anthrocon. "Anthrocon Artists' Alley". Archived from the original on 17 September 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
  14. ^ Kates, Tasha (8 July 2004). "Animal Magnetism". Philadelphia City Paper. Archived from the original on 11 October 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
  15. ^ a b c Phillips, Bianca (16 September 2005). "My Furry Weekend". The Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
  16. ^ a b Anthropomorphic Arts and Education. "AAE, Inc. - What we do". Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2006.
  17. ^ Brian Harris; Anthrocon charity auction director. "Anthrocon Charity Auction FAQ". Archived from the original on 29 August 2006. Retrieved 26 August 2006.
  18. ^ Harris, Brian, Anthrocon Charity Auction Director. "Anthrocon Charity Auction FAQ". Archived from the original on 29 August 2006. Retrieved 26 August 2006.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ Anthrocon (29 March 2006). "Anthrocon Convention Book Submission Guidelines". Archived from the original on 7 February 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
  20. ^ a b Anthrocon 2006 convention book
  21. ^ a b c Anthrocon (29 March 2006). "Anthrocon Registration". Archived from the original on 12 January 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
  22. ^ Tegethoff, Sven (7 December 2006). "Registration age". Retrieved 4 November 2007.
  23. ^ Abel, Jennifer (1 November 2007). "Hell Hath No Furries". Hartford Advocate. Archived from the original on 16 November 2007. Retrieved 1 November 2007.
  24. ^ Evanier, Mark (8 July 2007). "Report from Pittsburgh". Archived from the original on 12 August 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2007.
  25. ^ Guidestar.org - see Anthrocon, Anthropomorphic Arts and Education, Midwest Furry Fandom and the Oklahoma Association of Anthropomorphic Arts
  26. ^ University of California, Davis Department of Psychology (5 May 2007). "Furry Survey Results". Retrieved 5 May 2007.
  27. ^ Parry, Laurence "GreenReaper" (5 May 2007). "UC Davis posts furry survey results". WikiFur News. Retrieved 5 May 2007.
  28. ^ Ann Besler (18 June 2006). "All about 'furry fandom' at confab". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. PG Publishing Co. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  29. ^ Gurley, George (March 2001). "Pleasures of the Fur: The Animalistic, Sexy World of Furries and Fetishes". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015.
  30. ^ Rousseau, Morgan (26 February 2018). "Boston furry convention 2018 bonds anthropomorphic adorers". Metro Magazine. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  31. ^ Brandolph, Adam (28 June 2008). "Furry Convention $3 Million Cash Cow for City Businesses". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Archived from the original on 14 April 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2009.
  32. ^ "Biggest Little Fur Con Draws Thousands to Reno". This is Reno. 6 June 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  33. ^ "'Furry family' gathers in Ottawa at CanFURence". CBC. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  34. ^ "2000 Furries treffen sich im Estrel" (in German).
  35. ^ "Furrie invasion: 2000 fans attended Eurofeurence in Berlin to celebrate their love of anthropomorphic animals".
  36. ^ Hepler, Cassie (21 August 2017). "Furrydelphia: Inside Philly's first furries convention". www.metro.us. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  37. ^ Perets, Annie (2 June 2019). "'Furries' Take Over Surfers Paradise". www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au. Retrieved 17 January 2020.(subscription required)
  38. ^ Wilonsky, Robert (28 December 2009). "Plan Ahead: Hell Hath No Furry Like the Crowne Plaza Come February". Dallas Observer.
  39. ^ Eric Aasen (20 February 2010). "Costumed critters show their wild side at Furry Fiesta convention". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  40. ^ Craine, Tatiana. "Meet the furries of Furry Migration where being weird is a good thing [Video]". City Pages. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  41. ^ Sara Underwood (30 March 2011). "Furry Weekend Atlanta with Sara Underwood". Attack of the Show!. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  42. ^ Sulek, Julia (14 January 2018). "San Jose FurCon brings "Furries" and their animal costumes downtown". Mercury News.
  43. ^ Sangalang, Jennifer (3 August 2017). "Unfurgettable: Megaplex in Orlando celebrates furry fandom". Florida Today. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  44. ^ Bianca Phillips (16 September 2005). "My Furry Weekend". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  45. ^ Jason Marck and Eilee Heikenen-Weiss (14 December 2011). "Making fuzzy friends at Midwest FurFest". WBEZ. Archived from the original on 17 January 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  46. ^ "'Furry' convention disrupted as 'intentional' gas incident sends 19 to hospitals". Chicago Tribune.
  47. ^ FOX. "Woman takes dog to Furry Con in misunderstanding, raises $10K for Pets for Vets". WJBK. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  48. ^ Lu, Feiran (16 November 2020). "Pursuit of 'fursuit': animals as personas in trendy subculture". Shanghai Daily. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  49. ^ "Super Furry Fusion 2019 Information". FurryCons.com. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  50. ^ Gilmer, Marcus (9 March 2016). "Syrian refugees get warm welcome at Vancouver Furry convention". Mashable.com. Mashable, Inc. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  51. ^ Eleftheriou-Smith, Loulla-Mae (9 March 2016). "Syrian refugees in Canada got housed in same hotel as VancouFur furry convention and the children loved it". Independent.co.uk. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  52. ^ Graham, Chris (10 March 2016). "Syrian refugee children make some furry friends at Canada convention". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  53. ^ "KROQ Parties with the Furries at Califur Convention in Irvine". Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  54. ^ "CaliFur 2011: A Furry Convention". Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  55. ^ "Incredible Raw Footage From the World's First Furry Convention". The Daily Dot. 16 October 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  56. ^ Stephanie Bunbury (8 January 2012). "Up close and fursonal with the wild at heart". The Age. Retrieved 5 May 2012.

External links[edit]