Con report: Furry Migration 2014
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.
Among the more unexpected things on the programming schedule were panels on cuddling, beekeeping, brewing hard cider, and a dunking tank. I ran two panels. First was Whose Lion is it Anyway, and I wish I knew the names of the half-dozen people who were willing to get up on stage several times, you made the event possible! Wow, that was a tough audience; very shy.
My second panel was on the History of Furry, hosted with Kyell, Kurst, and Ken Fletcher (who's partially responsible for helping to start Furry fandom - thank you, Ken!). Jim Groat interjected occasionally from the audience - sometimes this was informative, other times it was distracting. Regardless, I had a good chat with him and Timothy Fay afterwards. Now I need to revise my hand-out!
Furry Migration doesn't have a charity yet, but it did do a little fund-raising for next year's con. (Theme: "Back to Migration!") There was a donation box in the con suite, and it was also possible to bid on donations in the artshow/artist's alley. I believe the donations were supplied by the Geek Partnership Society, a volunteer group in the Twin Cities area. During the con I bumped into at least one SF fan who decided to attend a furry con, just 'cause.
It really makes me happy to see furry fandom interacting with other fandoms, and the locals were very supportive; there was equipment generously loaned by CONvergence, Anime Detour, and Anime Fusion. Midwest FurFest also helped by giving advice, and several staff at Furry Migration had prior con experience from working there.
There was an Iron artist/Iron pen competition, but with a much looser time-limit, and open to pretty much anyone, with prizes for the winners. There was an active gaming room that offered prizes with certain game sessions. Sadly I wasn't able to go any of the dances, to see how those went.
The hotel was formerly called the "Thunderbird" - it's a two-floor, spread-out structure, with one indoor and one outdoor pool. It has a Native American theme which could be described as... "quaint". The rooms were ok, I'd say it's 3-out-of-5 star hotel. I certainly wasn't uncomfortable, and the staff were very helpful. They'd hosted anime cons before. Dining options were a little sparse, but the hotel provided a shuttle service to the Mall of America, where there are lots of places to eat. Even if you couldn't find a group of friends driving out to a restaurant, the hotel set up a food stand, selling fries, pizza, chicken fingers, etc. That was really convenient!
Lots of nice fursuits, including several first attempts that looked pretty good. At least two corvid partials that I really liked. Not many equines. There was also quite a wide range of ages at the con. A crowd of young furs arrived wearing kigu onesies, including a flying squirrel - I think I also may have seen a sugar glider wandering around. The headless lounge was centrally located for anyone who needed a quick break. The most novel things I saw were dragon tails built out of scale mail by SerenFey; I wonder what the inner support structure is.
Then we get to the part of the con report where I name-drop who I hung out with. I'm very awkward at making new friends, but Wolever introduced me to a whole bunch of wonderful folks. Some I'd met before, like Prowler and Wulfsige (who was on the stage crew - great work, guys!). LoneTiggs and Mandakatt were gracious enough to invite me into their suite; we shared several tastes in music and cartoons, and Manda mixes a good drink! There was also Wyngaed, JoeySparkz, Jacek... uhh... Nyxsiern, NallTWD [who has his own report]. Much thanks to Flip, who was on programming staff, and to Tenpin, whose panel I missed but with whom I had a great conversation. Also a few blasts from the past whom I only got to see in passing, like Guppy and Sylvan. Finally a huge thank-you to Furgeta who was my ride, putting up with my sleep apnea as best he could.
The closing ceremonies on Sunday were well-attended, and it was obvious that everyone wished the con could go on for a little longer. Foxfeather and Kyell gave such kind thank-yous to the staff of Furry Migration, that when it was Jeff Eddy's turn, he was reduced to thanking inanimate objects. When that was over, we adopted the outdoor courtyard as an unofficial Dead Dog hang-out until the hotel politely asked us to clear the area as they were preparing for a wedding the next day.
A huge thank-you to Kellic, Kurst and everyone else for putting Furry Migration together! I certainly hope to attend next year, although aside from improv and a repeat of the History topic, I'm not sure what else I can offer. :-)