ConiFur: Better than ever
ConiFur NW 2001, the fourth outing of this Seattle-region furry convention, was a resounding success. Membership was up from last year, despite the economy (412 paid memberships and 340 actual members on-site). Additionally, many dealers reported equal or better sales than previous years. There were more artists showing and no empty art panels that I recall in either room of the artshow.
Before I proceed with a review of specific portions of the convention, I must disclose that both myself and my boyfriend were on-staff this year, and we have been either volunteering or on-staff at every ConiFur since the first. Now that you know where my prejudices lie, let's start with a few things that didn't go perfectly.
The Pocket Program and Program Book contained a few errors. Those are all my fault, and we'll try to reduce them next year.
Some of the scheduled panelists didn't attend the convention and didn't inform the programming coordinator that they weren't going to make it. Consequently, some of the panels wound up being slightly different than originally planned. The convention only has two rooms for panels/clinics, and those rooms are also used for parties and other evening events, so it is difficult to squeeze in a sufficient variety of topics.
The dance was similarly plagued with a last minute change in personnel and some equipment problems. The people left holding the bag did their best to salvage the situation. For a convention with only 340 attendees, the dance was pretty good, nonetheless.
The artshow room labeled "General Audiences" contained material that was not, by any rational definition of the phrase, "General Audiences" material. It doesn't matter if "naughty bits" aren't showing--a picture of a person in a full bondage/S&M set up, obviously ready for a sex scene is not G-rated. I don't suggest that the artshow adopt draconian rules for content, I think they just need to admit that what they have is an X-rated room and a non-X-rated room. This is hardly a unique problem to ConiFur. I've seen it at other furry cons and at some general sci-fi cons.
The convention had to cancel the internet room. I almost didn't mention this, because I think that internet rooms at a convention are a waste of time, space, money, and manpower. However, I know that other people feel differently. The fact is that the hotel's ISP went out of business just a few days before the convention, and alternative ways to provide connectivity were impractical given the equipment and personnel available. Although there were a few people who complained about the lack, it didn't seem to impinge on most attendees' ability to have a good time.
There was some confusion with the hotel about when the convention was shutting down. Some of the convention rooms were double-booked on Sunday. As a compromise, the convention relinquished one programming room, which effectively cancelled two panels.
A fire alarm at midnight-thirty Saturday sent everyone out into the misty parking lot. A hot water heater gasket had burst, causing a small flood. Steam from the heater set off the smoke alarms. It didn't take long for the all-clear to be sounded.
ConiFur's first-ever charity auction raised $1400 for the Washington Ferret Rescue and Shelter. Representatives from the shelter were flabbergasted at how much money was raised and hope that they can continue a relationship with the convention.
Many of the panels were standing-room only. There was a fairly good variety of topics covered in the panels, particularly given the small number of rooms and time slots available.
Business was brisk in the Dealer's Den. Speaking for the publication I edit, our sales were up 17% from last year. Most of the dealers I asked on Saturday afternoon said they were doing very well.
The artshow had a wider variety of artists than previous years. Sales were good at both the show and the auction.
The ice cream social was a hit, and this year it was free!
I didn't make it to this year's Cartoons & Cereal event, but in past years it has been one of my favorite parts of the convention.
The information kiosk was a nice addition to the convention, although a lot of attendees never realized that the sides were meant to be bulletin boards for posting messages. The gaming room had a lot more scheduled events, in addition to a nice selection video and arcade games. The video room schedule featured a good variety of material, catering to diverse tastes.
ConiFur is a nice, small, relaxing, regional convention. The attendees seem to have a good time. I tried to be first in line to purchase a table for next year's dealer's den, but I wound up being second. I think it's a convention worth checking out, particularly if you're more comfortable in laid back environments.
I'm really looking forward to next year