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Midwest FurFest

Ghosting the Attendees: the problematic trend of conventions hiding their headcount

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Granddad loved ghost stories The term "ghosting a convention" is when a person attends and hangs around, but has not paid the organizers to do so. It’s seen as a major faux pas in the furry fandom due to the amount of time, effort and money their fellow fans put forth in order to put on the events.

Those who support the festivities through their patronage, therefore, should be praised for putting their time and money forth to support their gathering of choice. For the relationship between convention and attendee is symbiotic.

Instead, certain events seem to have started to shun the precedent of sharing how many furs attended their celebrations. Like a tree falling in the forest, the con did occur; but if you look back years from now, there will be no hard evidence of how many gathered. In essence, it is the attendees who have been ghosted.

Which is why I am writing this piece today, concerning a worrisome trend that a handful of events seem to have taken - including some of the largest events in our fandom. Conventions, as of late, have been trying to push away from publicly putting forth their attendance counts.

Update 5/24: An updated tentative count was released by BLFC in the comments below.
Update 6/16: FWA has provided their counts with the video of closing ceremonies in comments below.
Update 6/16: AnthOhio, which took place in late May after the article was written, has as of today not released attendance numbers on any internet media platform. They did release charity numbers of $13,000 raised.

Furry convention attendance reaches 5 digits at Midwest FurFest 2018

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Based on preliminary numbers from this weekend, Midwest FurFest 2018 had 10,700 attendees - a 22% increase from last year! [Update: Final count, 10,989!]

Attendance aside, there were many more numbers that furries could be proud of, including:

Artwork courtesy of KunaCoyote
(Image source: @wryote)

Midwest FurFest's Dealers Den policy prohibits fan art, causes fan concerns

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Last Sunday, Canadian furry artist Nayel-ie brought to Twitter concerns about Midwest FurFest's rules for dealers, which state:

Midwest Furry Fandom Inc. prohibits the sale or offer for sale at Midwest FurFest of items that reproduce third parties’ intellectual property without the express written permission from the owner.
Prohibited are included but not limited to:

Unlicensed depictions of characters appearing in third parties' movies, TV shows, books, sound recordings, still images, sculptures or any other media. No fan art; no counterfeit goods.

Midwest FurFest usurps Anthrocon's record and becomes the world's largest furry convention

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The cockroach upon the Pittsburgh-themed horse sees the Chicago Raccoon off as it takes the lead, while special friends look on. (Art by SelkieGal)

A closing ceremony for the fandom's history books took place on December 3rd, 2017. In the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, uproarious cheers and howls could be heard. With the utterance of a simple number, the convention's attendance was revealed to the expectant furries and made waves. Around 8,700 people had attended the gathering in Chicago this year, and in that moment it became the largest furry convention in the world, surpassing Pittsburgh's furry convention, Anthrocon, whose attendance was 7,544 this year.

"Dogs of War II: Aftermath" anthology to be released at Midwest FurFest 2017

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Cover art by Teagan Gavet.Dogs of War II: Aftermath, edited by Fred Patten, is launching at Midwest FurFest 2017 in Rosemont (Chicago), Illinois over the November 30-December 3 four-day weekend. You can pre-order it from FurPlanet, and after the con you can find it for sale through their online catalogue.

Dogs of War II: Aftermath is an all-original anthology of 20 short stories and novelettes of anthropomorphic animals (not just dogs) in military scenarios, from battle action to boot camps, from the past to the future, on land, at sea, and in space. This is designed to appeal to both s-f & fantasy fans, and fans of military s-f.

From bioengineered military dogs with Artificial Intelligence to a fawn trying to prove he's a stag, a horse sailor on a warship, a canid/ape space war, a self-aware robot bird, a fox soldier passed over for a deserved promotion, reindeer Vikings, animal Sea Bees constructing an island airstrip, and more; these are stories for your imagination and enjoyment.

MFF co-founder Takaza J. Wolf passes away (1976-2017)

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A little over two weeks ago, the fandom received some very sad news:
A photo of Takaza cuddling a dog.

Midwest FurFest hotel evacuated after 'intentional' chlorine release; 19 hospitalized

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Midwest FurFest's hotel was evacuated for several hours and nineteen people were hospitalized after what appears to be an intentional release of chlorine gas.

A broken plain glass jar containing a white powder was found in the ninth floor stairwell after reports from room 963 of a strong chlorine smell that forced the occupants onto the balcony.

A standard "box alarm" at 1:03 AM was quickly elevated to a hazardous materials and third-alarm emergency response. The adjoining convention center was used to house attendees until the area was made safe, with the all-clear sounded at 4:21 AM.

Additional sources: Chicago Tribune - Chicago Sun Times - ABC 7 (video)

MFF 2012 GoH interview: Nambroth, Miss Monster, FirestormSix

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Wildlife/fantasy artist Nambroth (Jennifer Miller), artist, costumer and sculptress Miss Monster (Melita Curphy), and fursuit builder and artist FirestormSix (Den Barrett) were interviewed last weekend at Midwest FurFest's "Meet the Guests of Honor" panel, hosted by Takaza and Perro.
Nambroth, Miss Monster and FirestormSix
First, they were asked to identify themselves, and the name of their microphones . . .

FirestormSix: I'm FirestormSix. My microphone is Spike.

Miss Monster: I make stuff in my basement, and it's awesome. My microphone is Applejack.

Nambroth: Nambroth, Jennifer Miller, I'm cool with either. I draw fantasy and wildlife professionally full time. I have Rainbow Dash.

Takaza: What brought you into the fandom?

FirestormSix: Basically the artwork, I started seeing the costumes a few years later; my first commission was six years ago, then I started getting a interest in building things, 4/1 2 years ago did a Dakota Wolf.

Nambroth: I got the Internet when I was 14 and was really into Gargoyles. I didn't know it was furries. I got into Yerf without realizing what I was doing, it was just "the animal people" to me.

Chicago's WBEZ follows fursuiters at Midwest FurFest 2011

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Chicago radio station WBEZ's Jason Marck and Eilee Heikenen-Weiss today broadcast their experience of MFF 2011 on morning program Eight Forty-Eight. [tip: Iggy & Idlewild]

The eight-minute segment focused on the motivations for fursuiting, and featured interviews with Woody, Atara, Ford Shepherd and convention chair Takaza J. Wolf. Other topics included whether furry was a fetish, and the convention charity, which left with over $18,500 (video).

So a huge part of it is this kind of kid-like, unbridled joy. [...] The whole thing felt like good clean fun ... there's an overall air of [...] innocence, inclusiveness, belonging ...

Jason said he found the fandom by accident, stumbling across WikiFur while looking up Japanese comic books. MFF attracted 2600 fans this year, including 574 parade fursuiters.

Midwest FurFest August 2011 newsletter

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Midwest FurFest 2011 is less than three months away, and as the dog days of summer come and go we're getting ready to "Get Our Kicks" for the twelfth edition of MFF, celebrating the history and lore of The Mother Road, Route 66! This year we are welcoming as our Guests of Honor two talented artists: Thornwolf and Rick Griffin (creator of the webcomic Housepets!). We've got a lot to tell you about, so here we go...

Video: Furries – an inside look

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Videographer Curt Pehrson gives an overview of the fandom with help from niteskunk, based largely on interviews from seven furs at Midwest FurFest 2010. [poizencat/fursuitlounge]

Read on for some highlighted quotes.

MFF 2010 GoH interview: Vantid, Redstorm, Kipper

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Vantid, Redstorm and KipperMidwest FurFest 2010's guests of honor – Vantid (Amber Hill), Redstorm (Alexis Rudd, aka The Blue Hyena) and Kipper Otter – kindly allowed me to record their answers in the "meet the GoH" panel, hosted by MFF chairman Takaza. So here they are!

Midwest FurFest 2010 facts and figures

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Midwest FurFest 2010 occurred last weekend, with 2285 attendees, including 413 in the fursuit parade. 388 art show pieces were sold (of 1121 on offer), bringing in over $12,000, while $11,347 was raised for their charity, Castaway Pet Rescue.

Two guests for next year were announced – Rick Griffin, creator of Housepets! and Thornwolf. The convention is accepting suggestions for a third guest, as well as a theme.

Should animals have a right to privacy?

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A researcher at the University of East Anglia thinks animals should not just be seen as "fair game" for filmmakers, but should be granted similar privacy rights as humans.

Dr. Mills says animals sometimes withdraw from "public" areas, and appear to want privacy:

When confronted with such 'secretive' behaviour the response of the wildlife documentary is to read it as a challenge to be overcome with the technologies of television. [...] The question constantly posed by wildlife documentaries is how animals should be filmed: they never ask whether animals should be filmed at all.

The story came a day before the release of an amateur documentary from a group attending Midwest FurFest in 2008 and 2009, including covert footage of furs in their natural habitat.

Midwest breaks records again

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Midwest FurFest 2007, the third largest furry convention in the world, broke it's own record in 2007, drawing a crowd of 1,689 furs - almost 1,000 more than it's nearest competitor Furry Weekend Atlanta, which recorded 762 attendees in the same year.

This doesn't match up to last year's exponential growth of 36% however, following the cancellation of Conifur Northwest, with this years convention reporting only a 16% growth on last year.