Almost every fandom has conventions, and the Furry Fandom is definitely no exception to the rule. They take various shapes and sizes, and can be found at various con spaces and hotels, and one convention even takes place at a resort and casino! Today we’re going to take a look at some of the bigger conventions – I’ve only been to one myself, a small little SoCal convention called CaliFur – as well as some of the things one would typically find at a convention. So pack your bags, because we’re going on a trip.
Typical Furry Fun
So in your tour around the different furry cons you might notice that there are a few things that almost seem to be some sort of unspoken standard for a furry convention. Or at least, most furry conventions – and of course I’m not just talking the comfy hotel rooms and the informative panels, either. For starters, furry cons love giving to charity as practically every con will pick out a charity to donate money gathered from special events. For instance, CaliFur has a “Pet Auction” where patrons can bid on fursuiters to spend time with and all the money gained from the Pet Auction is donated to that year’s charity of choice. Other typical things seen at a convention are a “Dealer’s Den” – basically the furry version of an Artists’ Alley – a fursuit parade filled with our favorite furry friends, nightly dances, and even a groovy dance competition featuring both those in and out of suit. Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone, a furry time tonight!
Let’s get our tour underway shall we?
Furry Central: Anthrocon
Chances are that if you’ve heard anything about furries you may have heard about Anthrocon – or “AC” as it’s known within the fandom. AC is a massive furry convention currently residing at the David L. Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and usually happens in the summer around June or July. It wasn’t always there, having been in other cities in Pennsylvania and even in New York before reaching its final resting place. It even went under another name prior to being called “Anthrocon” – Originally it was “Albany Anthrocon” when it was first held in 1997.
There’s a reason why AC is well known among many furs in the fandom – it’s massive! It continually brought in huge numbers each year, and used to consistently be the most attended furry convention in the world, with this year’s numbers being 7,544 furries in attendance. However, it does seem like there’s a new challenger to Anthrocon’s crown but, more on that later. The good thing about these huge numbers is it not only brings in huge numbers of furs but also huge business as well to the surrounding area. In fact back in 2012 a local café, Fernando’s Café, was in danger of being closed for good. Fortunately the con chair, Uncle Kage, was able to hold a fundraiser for the restaurant that actually managed to help it stay alive a while longer.
Lots of the more well-known furries in the fandom tend to turn up at Anthrocon as well, such as furry comedian 2 The Ranting Gryphon, music artist Fox Amoore, and furs that have been previously seen on this blog, such as the adorable Dutch Angel Dragon Telephone and furry novelist Kyell Gold. It seems to be a con that many furs want to attend at least once, just to see what all the fuss is about.
Something common among many furry cons is themes. Each year cons will pick out a different theme to frame their convention after, and Anthrocon’s had some interesting ones. This year featured baseball with “Take Me out to the Ballgame”, 2018 will feature a “Movie Monster” theme, and they even did a special “Roaring 20” theme for the con’s 20th anniversary last year in 2016. They’ve even done a “Secret Societies” (2014) and a “Heroes” (2005) theme. Talk about interesting and varied.
It’s a con that definitely shows no signs of slowing down in the near future, ether, and one that seems to be packed full of energy and excitement. If you’re interested in learning more about the con, have a look at their website. They’ve also got an official Twitter as well. For the rest of you, let’s continue the tour.
Humble Beginnings: Midwest Fur Fest
To be honest, I have never personally seen more hype for a con than Midwest Fur Fest – or MFF as it’s known colloquially. It originally began as the furry segment of a scifi convention called Duckon, and this furry track began to get larger and larger until it struck off on its own in 2000. It spent a good few years at the Westin Chicago North Shore before moving on over to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont Illinois back in 2010, and the con’s stayed there since.
MFF first took place the week before Thanksgiving in its initial 2000 outing, but since then it generally happens in the winter, usually around late November to early December. It may have started small, but it’s definitely gathering some steam; Last year it was ranked #2 as the most attended furry con according to Wikifur with 7,075 members in 2016. This year was different however, as it achieved an impressive 8,700 members, more than even Anthrocon, making it the world’s most attended furry con in the world as of now. I’d say that’s pretty good for an event that started off being a segment of another con. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if this soon becomes a second Anthrocon in the sense that practically every furry knows of it and wants to attend it at least once. I know I will once I get the chance to!
Much like Anthrocon, however, MFF’s themes seem to be here and there. This year they did a “Grimm’s Fairytales” theme, and the announced theme for 2018 is “Fly the Furry Skies” (avians this sounds like it might be your time!). They’ve also had a “Chicago’s Blues” theme in 2010, and have even gotten a little festive, with a “Holidays in the City” theme in 2014.
A small-time con that ended up making it big, what’s there not to like? If you are want some more info, check out their website and give their Twitter a peek as well – remember to use the hashtag #FurFest if you’re talking about them! Now, time for the final stop on our little tour.
All In: Biggest Little Fur Con
And lo, from the West a furry con did rise up to give the Western furries a place to gather, known to many there as BLFC – or Biggest Little Fur Con if you want to use the full name. Quite an interesting oxymoron of a name if I do say so myself.
BLFC is a younger con, first taking place in 2013 at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada where it currently resides. The GSR gives the con a sort of unique edge, as it’s so far the only furry convention that actually has a casino in it; there’s also various other activities to partake in as well such as go-karting, for those of you that have no interest in casinos. And yes, there are furs that kart in suit. The convention also plays with the casino aspect too, as those who pay for the higher-tier memberships gets a nice little novelty poker chip along with their membership package. The con generally takes place in either May or June, as the con has traded month with fellow Western con CaliFur.
Despite BLFC’s status as a youngster con it’s done a swell job of encountering some rapid-fire growth. The numbers seem to climb every year, and it’s quickly established itself as the con to go to for furs on the west coast. This year BLFC had 5,138 attendees, making it the third-highest attended furry con this year, so I’d say if it becomes “the” west coast con to go to it’d be very well deserved.
BLFC is also pretty interesting when it comes to its themes; while the first two seemed to be more based on eras with 2013 being a 20’s theme and 2014 being a 60’s theme, later themes would have some kind of background story or plotline. 2015 – 2016 saw a two-part theme where a rebellion rose up against Brometheus in a 1984-type setting and the fallout from the rebellion succeeding. This year’s theme was based around Kaiju, with some background lore having things set in a scifi world threatened by said monsters. 2018 is “A Musical”, and if the pattern continues, it’s safe to say there’ll be some kind of lore to this musical setting as well.
So that concludes this little tour of a trio of cons. This is by all means not anywhere close to the list of cons, however; the US alone has over 10 cons of various shapes and sizes, and there’s cons in the UK, Canada, and cons have even sprouted up in Japan!
Ever been to a furry con before? What about any other fandom cons? Got any other questions or comments? Sound off in the comment below. Thanks for reading, and a special thanks to WikiFur, an awesome wiki about the furry fandom, for having so much information available on these various cons.