MFF 2007: Thursday
At ninety minutes to midnight, the Hyatt Regency Woodfield's main atrium - newly accented with eerie colour-shifting LEDs - is packed with furs, tails and fursuits. Old friends greet one another with smiles, laughter, and a more-than-occasional hug. Midwest FurFest 2007 has arrived.
Registration opened promptly at 7PM, with badges flying off the printers as fast as staff could call the names out. A total of 649 were registered by the end of the day.
As has become customary, Thursday's early arrivals were greeted with a sweet treat, along with a variety of tasty toppings. Somewhat less customarily, the treat consisted of sweet mashed potato. Regular mash was also provided, along with pitchers of kool-aid.
While the official schedule doesn't start until Friday, a combination quiz and betting game was in progress down the corridor. The question of the day: "How fast is a speeding cheetah?" (Answer: 65 miles/hour.)
Just how many fans plan to attend is unknown, but a number well over 1,500 would not be unexpected. Last year's 34% growth - perhaps spurred by the cancellation of Conifur Northwest - exceeded the most optimistic projections, requiring the sponsor items to be re-ordered. While nobody quite expects this year's growth to equal the last, there are no indications that the event is getting any smaller.
Even before this year's event has fully started, plans for next year are underway. Several months ago, the board of Midwest Furry Fandom chose Midwest FurFest 2008's chairman - its current Director of Registration, Duncan da Husky. His biggest challenge may be dealing with the convention's continued growth. Rumours abound of a move, but whatever he's got in store will only be be revealed at this year's closing ceremonies.