Eurofurence 24 ran from 22 August to 26 August this year. It was the biggest one so far and a great opportunity to meet friends from all over and enjoy oneself. There were several panels, discussions and events which are worth noting. However, conventions are very personal experiences, so while I will focus on some larger themes, your own con experiences may vary. I have previously reported on Eurofurence 21 and Eurofurence 23.
Furry Event China (referred to henceforth as FEC) is a number of firsts for me with regards to attending a furry convention:
- The convention itself was held inside of an event space of a public mall rather than the usual convention center
- It was my first furry convention experience not of a Western demographic
- It was the first convention I attended outside of North America.
- Actually, it was my first furry convention at an event that wasn't called VancouFur
Given this, and an assortment of other differences we will be going over, it was definitely an experience that I will never forget.
One of the drawbacks of living in South Africa is that the furry scene is currently rather small. Despite attempts to bring furs from all over the country together for a national meet, we had limited successes and, even when we managed a national furmeet, only assembled between 14 and 16 attendees. Things have improved during the last few years, and meet sizes have increased quite dramatically, even to the point that plans are underway to reboot the South Afrifur convention in 2016.
So, when I moved to Europe, I was glad to finally have the opportunity to attend proper, large-scale furry conventions. I chose two different cons to attend. One was Lakeside Furs, which is a relatively small (approximately 50 attendees) Austrian convention. It made sense as I was now living in Austria and it offered a way to meet the Austrian furry community. I also chose Eurofurence which, as the largest furry convention in Europe, is an almost obligatory furry visit. Although I didn't realize it at the time, both Eurofurence and Lakeside Furs were started by Unci, although he is no longer involved with Eurofurence.
The convention was held in the Ramada hotel near the Mall of America and MSP Airport, and the guests of honor were Foxfeather R. Zenkova, Kyell Gold and Jeff Eddy (head of Sofawolf Press). Overall I had a very good time!
All first-year conventions are a bit wobbly, and Furry Migration is one of the least wobbly ones I've ever attented. They ran it really smoothly, especially registration - amazingly efficient. Apparently there was a bit of a last-minute shuffling of staff in the weeks leading up to the con, and there was no sign of it. The only major let-down was the limited sponsor brunch menu (probably due to budget constraints); some panels were unusually under-attended, but you can't blame staff for that.
Despite the attendance of 543, the halls never felt horribly crowded. Friday night was a little slow, while Saturday was a blast - this is definitely a social con! Now all it needs is a zoo or general-purpose lounge, although I'm not sure where they could put one. Aside from the con suite (well-stocked with drinks and snacks), one of the nicest places to hang out was in the fresh air, there was an inner courtyard with lots of chairs. Holding the evening bonfire there went really well, great energy.
GaymerX, the first gaming convention focused on LGBT themes, won media buzz and crowds through active inclusion. Inviting allies in "geek culture" to an "arms-open party for anyone who wants to join", it drew over 2,000 to San Francisco's Japantown (a heavy turnout for a first con, compared to established furry conventions.) Founder Matt Conn called it "just the start".
The last time I did a report for Flayrah, someone complained that being mostly interested in furry comics and webcomics doesn't make one a 'fringe' furry. Well, there wasn't a single comic-related event in over 160 program items. A couple of panels on making cartoons, and two or three categories in the Ursa Major awards for 2012, which were announced at the con, but that's it. Still plenty for me to enjoy, though.
Like every year since CaliFur V, CaliFur IX took place at the Irvine Marriott Hotel in Irvine, California, on May 31–June 2, 2013. This year’s theme was “FURtual Reality”. There were two guests-of-honor: Maxwell Alexander Drake, the Author GoH, author of the Moonbeam Young Adult Fantasy Award-winning novels in 2009 and 2011 (the first two novels in his Genesis of Oblivion Saga), and their publisher, Imagined Interprises, Inc. in Las Vegas; and NecroDrone, the Artist GoH, “BDSM Illustrator and Dominatrix extradiordinaire!” Official attendance was 1,178; an increase of over two hundred. Due to my continuing poor health, I was in a wheelchair, with my sister Sherrill pushing me. We could only attend for Saturday the 2nd.
The Grand Sierra, location of the first Biggest Little Furry Convention (May 3-5, 2013), was packed with enthusiastic crowds of casino visitors. A person with free time or money couldn't avoid fun if they tried. It had restaurants, swimming, bowling, gambling, movies, go karts, and more attached to a large and classy hotel. Holding a furry convention there just made things extra outrageous.
Even with the planned options, the place offered good fun just for wandering around. A buddy and I wandered out a side exit that led nowhere special. On the way back in, I was stopped by a blonde woman who looked like a vacationing professional. She gestured with an astonished look, and asked, "What's all this about?"
"It's a theatrical thing. It's for a Furry convention", I said.
I explained about people who like role-playing and creativity. She asked about the costumes.
"No two are alike," I said, "I don't build them, but there's a lot of artists who do it here."
"You're doing pretty good at explaining this," she said. "I just don't know how to take it seriously from a big talking dog!"
"You're doing pretty good yourself," I told her. "And that's the point. Being silly!"
Fur the 'More, Baltimore’s first furry convention, took place on the first week of April. April is known for its rain, and whenever it rains, it pours. It was to be my first small convention, but it was certainly not as small as many other new conventions.
My own experience, compared to other furs, is limited: Anthrocon 2011 & 2012, and MFF 2011. Today I review this hatchling. I’ve included some personal stories – the greatest convention stories are personal. Besides, if you don’t have stories to tell, than what was the point of going on the adventure?
Crossaffliction is working on a sort into categories of all Flayrah’s posts. He has started at the beginning in January 2001, and is so far through September 2004. He notes that as of that date, there are only seven Furry convention reports. “[T]hey seem to have fallen out of fashion as of late. In case you hadn't noticed.”
He is right. I have complained about the difficulty that this makes in writing a history of Furry fandom. Early s-f fans wrote convention reports of five to ten pages in their fanzines. When Sam Moskowitz wrote his history of s-f fandom in the 1930s, and Harry Warner, Jr. wrote his of s-f fandom in the 1940s, and I wrote a history of the World S-F Convention from 1939 through 1948 in 1976, we had no trouble getting information on the conventions because of the long, detailed con reports in the fanzines. But there has been little of this in Furry fandom. A Furry con report tends to be little more than, “I went to the con and I had a good time”, or, “A lot of people caught the con crud”, or posting a half dozen or so photos of unidentified Fursuiters.
To do something about this, here is my very incomplete report of CaliFur VIII just past. I hope that other attendees can add to it.
Although South Africa has a small number of furs, with just under 200 registered users on the ZAfur forum, it does hold an annual, national furmeet, South Afrifur. As there are so few furs in South Africa the meet is intended to gather as many as possible together, once a year, to get to know one another.
The 2010 meet, organised by Nanukk, Electrocat and Cat147, was held in Port Elizabeth from 7–15 January 2011. The meet was hosted by Nanukk and attended by about 14 furs from around South Africa, though that varied from day-to-day.
As I mentioned in a similar report a couple of years ago, I consider myself a fringefur because I don't do things that more committed furries do (writing, art, fursuiting, taking on a fursona). Mostly I just like to read furry comics; most of my favorite Webcomics are furry, and I first got into the fandom when Fantagraphics stopped publishing Critters and I had to find another source. Text stories don't appeal so much, though I loved Michael Payne's Blood Jaguar, for instance, and I don't much care for movies or TV of any sort. I've never seen Disney's Robin Hood, which I gather is something of a furry gateway drug.
So why did I go to Anthrocon at all? Well, I'll tell ya.
Last weekend I went to Anthrocon in Pittsburgh, the biggest anthropomorphics (furry) convention in the world, with 3390 in attendance. I thought some of a conreport might be of interest to some of my correspondents.
It was a cold, wet day in Manchester town on June 21st, but the atmosphere inside the Manchester YHA was as flaming as the residents of Canal Street just a few blocks away. Yes, the long awaited ConFuzzled is in town! And we here at The Furtean Times felt we should splash out a bit and report live from the convention itself, I mean, we have been documenting the rise of this homegrown convention since issue one; it was only fair we gave it a shot for a final finale.
One year of planning later and The Furtean Times is in the warm confines of the ConFuzzled hostel, a little damp from the unfortunately less welcoming weather outside; the newly renovated YHA in the Castlefield area of Manchester providing a much more inviting environment. In this one building there was 136 furs packed in to 35 rooms, served with top of the range facilities and events.
« To put it concisely, my opinion of ConFuzzled so far is as follows: Completely awesome! » ~ Fenrir
Reported by Ash Paluk - now known in the furry community as Zaishi Mai.
Saturday the 21st of June marked a significant day for Northern furries, the first UK convention outside of London, ConFuzzled. Of course, I had to wake up late. After a power-shower and a quick breakfast, I arrived in Manchester, meeting with Tori and Silentwulf, among others including Hyss and Istauri. I must say, I've never met quite a more friendly bunch of people, and this being my first meeting with a group from the fandom, ensured that my positive view on furries continued.
« It's been fantastic and hell to all the neysayers! » ~ Lazerus