Oklacon canceled for 2015, more than likely permanently
Oklacon, held since 2003 (originally as "Festival of the Feral") at Oklahoma's Roman Nose State Park and billed as "the world's largest outdoor furry convention," has been cancelled for 2015, and probably permanently. The convention's website now contains an announcement of the cancellation:
So, it is with a sad and heavy heart that we inform you that Oklacon is cancelled this year and indefinitely.
We understand the extreme disappointment and trouble this will cause those who had planned to attend this year’s iteration of the world’s largest outdoor furry convention. We understand some may have arranged travel, time-off, or forfeited other plans to attend Oklacon - and to those who have been adversely impacted by the State of Oklahoma’s decision - we are extremely disappointed too.
The event that led to the cancellation of Oklacon is explained in an earlier journal on Fur Affinity:
Unfortunately, our balancing act was thrown asunder during Oklacon 2014, when three first-time attendees showed up a night before opening ceremonies, intoxicated themselves, and engaged in public sexual intercourse in the middle of group camp in night. This unprecedented display of poor taste crosses a line on many levels - sex is not what our fandom is about. Substance abuse is not what our fandom is about. Irresponsible behavior that puts others at risk for disease or unplanned pregnancies is not what our fandom is about. By registering for Oklacon and engaging in this behavior in a public state park, in a space reserved in the name of the convention, these individuals represented our fandom in these ways, in full view of the general public. It also crossed the line from 'obscene' to 'illegal'.
In the State of Oklahoma, women cannot legally consent to sex if they are intoxicated, even if they consent before or afterwards. Park management, appropriately, reported this incident to the Blaine County District Attorney as required by Oklahoma law. Various Oklacon volunteers who witnessed this event also provided written statements of the incident to fully disclose what occurred and to document Oklacon's appropriate handling of the issue - upon discovering this incident we stopped it, we immediately reported it to the rangers as we are legally required to do, we in good faith disclosed all the facts (including the registration details of the three involved and the minor forms for any registered minors at the time of the event), and we ejected the three individuals in question from Oklacon, sending them back home early to their respective states.
The post asserts this event was a sort of last straw between park staff and the convention, which was denied access to the park. Oklacon had rescheduled the con, which had traditionally fallen on Halloween weekend, a week earlier to Oct. 22 through 25 at new site Sequoyah State Park; however, when the park staff there were also made aware of the previous event, they also denied access to their park, and it was made clear that any other state parks would deny the convention access as well.
Oklacon's cancellation message had information about refunds for convention-goers who had already registered for this year's convention:
First and foremost, those who paid any funds for registrations, lodging, tent spots, dealer spaces, etc. for Oklacon 2015 will be made whole through refunds. There are over 250 payments we have to date to refund, so please bare with us as we work to reach out and provide an orderly return of your monies no later than October 31, 2015. We will be unable to honor refunds for ‘comps’, contest winnings from 2014, or deferrals from a previous-year no-show. Any and all requests for information or refund status should only be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org - not to any one individual, through social media, or via SMS or IM.
A smaller convention, Oklacon peaked at 352 attendees in 2013. Since 2009, there has been a 22% budget cut to Oklahoma state parks, causing the closure of seven state parks in 2011.