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The geography of furry conventions: how our biggest events tell us about the fandom's past, present, and future

Edited by GreenReaper as of Wed 14 Dec 2022 - 17:57
Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (13 votes)

Furry conventions are inherently tied to the places people are, and thus can give us both context about furry history and perhaps a glimpse into the future. Plus, there are quite a few misconceptions about the world that annoy me; this may help break a stereotype or two.

Map of furry conventions in December 2022

A map of furry conventions in the world, made by me. WikiFur's map has some... weird inclusions, let's say, so I made my own.

Introduction

For some reason - perhaps thanks to my autism - I was curious about how the success of a furry convention was tied to its location. Originally, I wanted to see which cities had furry conventions and which did not, and why Pittsburgh, of all cities, had the biggest furry convention in the world (I started my research before this year’s MFF, and though MFF’s peak was greater than Anthrocon 2022, I mostly cared about the most recent figures). This led me to start a Google My Maps1 of as many furry conventions as I could find and their exact venues, though sometimes I would count cities as approximate locations if I couldn’t find information (like in a lot of East Asia).

I used WikiFur’s attendance list and Google to find as much information, geographically, as I could. That list also has a few things that I would personally consider “meets” or “camps” instead of conventions. In my definition, if there is an event comprising of multiple, smaller events in a hotel or convention center, it’s a convention and not just a big meet. Thus, I likely may have missed some conventions, or classified some meet as a convention by accident. I did not have the time, energy, nor money to travel to them all to check for myself, so keep that in mind.

This is also only part 1 of a two-part series; one which is quite short but something I want to get out to the world, and the second which is far more detailed and a more niche topic, though still related to furry conventions and geography. This is because part 1 focuses on a macro scale, while part 2 focuses on a micro one.

Macro furs in America

With that said, the macro results don’t seem that interesting at first if you take all furry conventions that are on my map. According to the map, furry conventions are mostly located where people are, and where people who can afford a furry convention are (reminding me of a certain xkcd). Thus, it is mostly Europe, North America (read: the US and Canada), Oceania, and East Asia that have furry conventions, with a few extra in South Africa, South East Asia, and Latin America. This is hardly surprising, as even if there were furries in, say, Venezuela [there are - including an organization now celebrating its tenth year], there are probably many who are more worried about basic needs such as food and a job rather than being able to attend an optional event like a furry convention. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be a furry convention in the future here, in the sense the people in poorer countries should be able to afford things like travel, a happy life, and optional expenses. That is, of course, something to be aware of when looking at the map.

However, things quickly change once one takes attendance into account. I decided to separate conventions on the map into three categories: cons with over 1,000 attendees, cons that were close (over 800 attendees and StratosFur, which had 798), and every other con.3 Once I did this, and even before I did this, I noticed a pattern. Out of the 43 conventions that either were close to 1000 or were above 1000 attendees, 34 of them were located in the US and Canada (which had four of those). The vast majority of big and sizeable furry conventions are within the United States and Canada. This is despite the population of the EU, Japan, and Australia all having huge populations of their own, with the EU having about 100 million more people than the US.4 I’ve heard some people in the US express that there are “a lot of” furries in Europe, and they’re not wrong. It is very true that there are furries all over the world, from South Korea to the UK to South Africa to Pakistan and Brazil. However, as initially surprising as this data is, it does make a lot of sense. After all, despite the widespread propagation of furries through the internet and thus the world, it’s also true that the phenomenon of furries is, in truth, a very American thing.

I don’t mean to imply that furries are “mostly” American, and I also don’t want to sound too similar to J.J. McCullough (in my opinion and from what I’ve heard the guy’s kind of a douche, at least online). However, I do think that there’s a very simple explanation to both why America has so many large furry conventions and why Pittsburgh, specifically, has one of the larger ones: momentum.

The fandom truly did start in the United States, both with Disney’s Robin Hood releasing in 1973, and with those who I shall call “pioneers” such as Fred Patten, Uncle Kage, and many others. The origins of the fandom are messy, but knowledge of in which country the fandom was founded - the United States of America - is not. The first formal and specifically furry convention was also founded in the United States, ConFurence.5 Although it was dissolved in 2003, its impact both within the furry community and outside of it (Brony conventions wouldn’t’ve existed without ConFurence, I’d argue) is outstanding and enormous. Thus, with a shared language, culture, and a lack of borders - both literal and figurative - it makes a lot more sense for furry conventions to spread within the US than for it to suddenly appear as big and important in, say, France. I’m not an expert on furry history, but it does make logical sense. Both Anthrocon and Midwest FurFest are American, as well, which brings me to talking about Anthrocon.

AC/BLFC

Founded in 1997,6 Anthrocon is one of the oldest still-running conventions in the furry fandom, though nowadays it’s located within a convention center, not a hotel like DenFur (my local con, which I use as an example). After outgrowing its previous venues, the founders of Anthrocon were looking for a new one – preferably bigger, of course. In a surprising twist of fate, Anthrocon’s current venue did not approach Pittsburgh’s convention center – the city and its convention center approached Anthrocon.7 Officials came to them, and greeted them not just with open arms, but an understanding and knowledge of the fandom that some would call suspicious nowadays but I (and I’m sure Uncle Kage) would call a breath of fresh air. It was a good idea on their part too, as with its location in downtown Pittsburgh, every year, the convention brings good money to the economy. Last year, that number was $7 million dollars.6 This is an amazing boon for a city that is only now recovering from its Rust Belt reputation, as being formerly a city known for its steel industry up until the mid 20th century. It may be reasoned that Anthrocon may have played a part in this recovery, however small. Anthrocon also benefited from this arrangement, as it continued to have more room to grow and grow up until it became the second-biggest furry convention to this day.

This makes sense, too, as people tend to attract people. Businesses, too, like to cluster together,8 as it makes a lot of sense to create hubs of industry in certain cities. The Bay Area, for example, is well known for being a tech hub, both with Silicon Valley in San Jose and San Francisco itself. New York is a hub in general, with banking and many more industries as well, and Los Angeles is known for being a film hub with Hollywood. This isn’t just because of the efficiency of cities, as having to transport goods and ideas through shorter distances to more people is incredibly efficient, but also because of how businesses being close to each other means that certain things serving those businesses are close together. For example, Detroit was close to a lot of the steel and industrial production of the Great Lakes at the time, so car companies cluster in Detroit for efficiency of goods, ideas, transport, and more. Even to this day, the headquarters of many American auto companies are located in Detroit, despite the depressing reputation of the city. Thus, it makes perfect sense that furries attract other furries (in this geographical context, not just the scandalous one). So, with the momentum of Anthrocon already started and with its space to grow, it would continue to attract more and more furries. This is also why MFF, which is also a historically significant convention, attracts so many furries as well.

This extends to other, smaller conventions and some larger but still newer conventions, though it requires more than just geographical explanation. For example, Biggest Little Fur Con (named for its home city’s nickname) is not very little at all: it is somehow the fifth largest furry convention by attendance. Rather, I thought the correct word was “somehow”, but once I learned more about it it, the word “impressively” but also “not surprisingly” both make more sense. The unique thing about BLFC is that it’s not located in a convention center nor, necessarily, a hotel; it’s located in a resort. Thus, besides the fact that Reno is seen as a more affordable Las Vegas to many, it also had a very tempting draw of the resort itself. Assuming you paid for a room, you don’t really need to venture outside of the venue for much of anything. The venue has its own restaurants, shops, gambling (of course), pool, bowling alley, arcade, go-kart racing track, concerts, and more.9 I didn’t mean to turn this into a BLFC advertisement, but I cannot deny that many would be attracted to the idea of spending time with furry friends in both hotel room parties and also other activities that could be considered a furry vacation. This, I think, is what makes BLFC so unique for a convention, as I will discuss more in part 2.

DenFur is also a spiritual successor to Rocky Mountain Fur Con, meaning that for this context I will talk about the two like they’re the same thing (even though Patch of DogPatch News fame will yell at me). The unique thing about Rocky Mountain Furcon, and thus DenFur, is that it is located within Colorado, the first state (technically) to legalize marijuana. (Note: this personally used to upset me, not because I dislike weed but because Washington state legalized weed in the same year, and yet we’re the ones that get called the “weed state”. Of course, I am no longer upset, as although Oregon legalized mushrooms first, we also uh… just did that this year. So, now I shall own up to the stereotypes and eat more edibles.) So, a surprising amount of people came to RMFC to smoke weed, and it became known as the “stoner con”. Once it was (rightfully) dissolved, though, and DenFur was founded, the title somewhat moved on to DenFur before other states (rightfully) started to legalize weed. However, thanks to the fact that people (especially in furry-filled Colorado) were already going to the convention, the momentum continued anyway, making DenFur a surprisingly big convention despite its local-sounding name.

This means that although being located near population centers helps, it’s also true that sometimes, you don’t need a big city to have a big convention; you simply need momentum. This is the case with BLFC, Anthrocon, DenFur, and to an extent MFF. Thus, it makes a lot of sense that the bigger conventions are within the United States. This doesn’t mean that this will be true for long, however.

International expansion

Furry conventions, both in the United States and Canada and outside of it, are still growing by attendance numbers, especially after the pandemic has significantly calmed down (thanks, vaccines). This is partially because the furry community is growing, but it’s also because other places outside of the US and Canada are finally gaining the momentum that they deserve. Eurofurence is the largest furry convention outside of the US, and it is located in Berlin, Germany. This convention is only slightly bigger than DenFur, but it still reaches the top 10 of furry conventions. This is partially because Germany is more furry-accepting than many other countries in Europe (as far as I know), thus it is more likely to attract furries from all over Europe. In the same way that MFF is located near a large international airport (ORD), Berlin (both by train and plane) is easily accessible from the rest of Europe, thus making Eurofurence truly European. It can also attract people from other continents thanks to its size, for reasons of both population and momentum. Despite its already large size, it is also still growing in attendance numbers. This is also true for a lot of conventions within Europe, such as Furnion, ConFuzzled, NordicFuzzCon and Furry BlackLight.

The same goes for conventions in east Asia and even South East Asia, with conventions such as Japan Meeting of Furries, Infurnity, FurryPinas (which is, thanks to American influence possibly, the largest furry convention in Asia and beats out all of Oceania easily), and others. This suggests that while the furry community is already international thanks to the internet, it is only becoming more globally diverse and even more international thanks, simply, to momentum. This momentum will also cause larger conventions to exist in more places, such as Osaka, Japan; perhaps Aukland, New Zealand [previously host to FurcoNZ 2012]; and more. However, the momentum in Europe and Asia isn’t what gets me the most excited about the future of the furry fandom and its conventions; it’s a different, currently poorer10 region that’s getting me excited.

Confuror is currently the largest furry convention outside of Europe and the US/Canada, clocking in at almost 2,000 attendees.3 It is located in Guadalajara, Mexico, and this year it was the second furry convention I attended (my first was DenFur of this year, which I personally hated for anxiety-related reasons). Despite being in Mexico, I loved it far more than I liked DenFur, and would argue that it is directly comparable in terms of quality to conventions in richer countries, especially the US. It had a conbook, plenty of panels and activities, a dealers’ den, an artist’s alley and so many more things that one would expect from a richer country con. Plus, the hotel is/was quite fancy and accommodating, and the Fiesta Americana is a hotel that people in Mexico have heard of and view as being quite, well, expensive.

Confuror, overall, was a great con with great people and a great atmosphere, even though I didn’t go to any room parties for my introversion and nativity in the fandom. I probably got a better experience for I speak Spanish (despite not being even slightly Hispanic), but a lot of the other Americans that I talked to still very much enjoyed the con (including Patch) despite their lack of Spanish skills. There were also a few people (read: few) who only spoke English to me even though I prefer Spanish, though it doesn’t help that I’m more familiar with Colombian and Peruvian Spanish than Mexican Spanish (wey, que onda con los cabrones? - I somewhat butchered that, but my point is proven).

The reason why I’m talking about my experience at Confuror is because I’m trying to break stereotypes. Mexico is not only becoming a richer, more prosperous country over time (though not as quickly as other countries in the world), it is also true that in the first place, even a decade ago, it was possible to hold a convention in Mexico. Cost of living is lower in Mexico, so what one would consider to be middle class in Mexico looks poorer than the middle class in the US or Germany. However, there are still many Mexicans that can afford to travel, at least to other parts of Mexico. They may travel via intercity bus (which, in Mexico, is significantly better than Greyhound is in the US, by the way) and take public transportation and stay in a mid-range hotel rather than fly in first class then take a shuttle to Fiesta Americana, but they can still travel. In a similar way, costs to hold a convention in Mexico are lower, simply because prices are lower so that Mexicans can afford it.

Confuror 2023 poster I also want to break the stereotype that Mexico is overly dangerous for a convention. Yes, cartel violence is very real in Mexico, but it is also based on where one is, both within the country and within the cities of said country. Confuror was located in a very rich neighborhood in the west part of the city, and even though I stayed in a separate hotel, I was still able to walk at about 1am at night back to my hotel by myself. The entire way was lit until my hotel. This isn’t to say that I didn’t know what I was doing; as someone who’s had the privilege and opportunity to travel by myself to Peru, I knew which precautions to take in order to feel safer. However, pretending that Mexico is a poor, crime-ridden country when it is a far more complicated and nuanced place than simply only poverty or only crime (although they still very much exist) is not only disingenuous, it is discriminatory and potentially racist.

Although that last section may have felt like a complete tangent, it wasn’t, because I believe Confuror gives us westerners a glimpse into the future of the furry fandom. Just like Mexico, Latin America (including Brazil) has rich parts and poor parts, safe parts and dangerous parts, and is a very complicated and nuanced place, both between countries and within them. However, the most relevant similarity is that Latin America’s many economies are growing (except for, very arguably, Argentina, which is famously weird in the world of economics). As Latin America grows in wealth and influence, the ability for the average Latin American to not only travel within their country but indeed to travel between countries only grows stronger. This isn’t just because of the recent rise of budget airlines like Gol in Brazil, VivaAerobus in Mexico, and others in Latin America, but also simply because as a country becomes more prosperous, the ability for its citizens to do more expensive things in their off time grows.

Latin America is now more forward-thinking than it ever has been before. Mexico legalized gay marriage country-wide this year, and other countries such as Uruguay, Colombia, Chile, and Costa Rica also legalized gay marriage. With greater LGBT acceptance often comes, at least eventually, greater furry acceptance. Thus, as the furry fandom grows within Mexico thanks to cross-border influence, it will also invariably grow in the rest of Latin America thanks to a shared language and the internet (or in the case of Brazil, a similar language and the internet). Confuror is already growing in popularity, and as Confuror becomes more popular, more conventions (both small and large) will invariably pop up (or simply gain popularity) in other places. Therefore, I don’t believe that the future of the furry fandom is not exclusively found in the already rich parts of the world; it will also be found in some parts of the world that will be rich in the future.

Conclusion

Overall, it is a wonderful and amazing thing that the furry community is growing worldwide. As we bring in a wider variety of people, the artistic, musical, and social contributions within the fandom will only grow in quality and quantity, and the experiences had at furry conventions will, likewise, improve as well. While bigger does not always mean better (as is the case with MFF for most introverts), it’s still true that, regardless of if my predictions are correct, that furry conventions will grow in size and improve in quality pretty much everywhere. However, I believe that simply letting the future take its course is not ideal, as it can not only get better faster, but also in a less dramatic fashion. Learning about how furry conventions are created and maintained - not by population or luck, but by momentum - will allow more people in places where furry cons are still gaining momentum to learn from our successes and create local furry communities that are better than ours.

Learning that the fandom is also more American in origin will also allow us to understand our context better, and perhaps to understand the differences between conventions in the US/Canada and conventions outside of that region. Understanding both the non-native-English-speaking furry community’s potential to grow and the reasons why they haven’t reached the same heights as conventions in the US/Canada will help to break stereotypes and, perhaps, make our community more united and better for everyone. Also, I honestly think that learning about different countries around the world is a lot of fun, despite myself not being an economist nor an expert on pretty much anything.

I think that the global furry community will only get better, or at least bigger, as time goes along, especially in Latin America. Perhaps, then, instead of simply ignoring the momentum as many Americans often do, we should embrace it and help these non-US/Canada conventions grow in numbers and popularity (if we can afford it, of course). Perhaps we should continue to do what furries have always done a good job of doing: being an accepting, loving, and open-minded community. Hopefully not just in English, though.

Citations

  1. Map of Furry (and Brony) Cons
  2. "Heatmap", xkcd
  3. "List of in-person furry conventions by attendance", WikiFur
  4. "Population, total - European Union, United States", The World Bank
  5. "Confurence 0 Conbook", The ConFurence Archive
  6. "Our History", Anthrocon
  7. "Here's why the world's largest furry convention is in Pittsburgh", PennLive Patriot-News
  8. "Why do businesses cluster together?", British Council
  9. Grand Sierra Resort
  10. "GDP per capita, current prices", International Monetary Fund

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 4.2 (5 votes)

I very much disagree that a camp cant be a convention. Our local camp con has a population of 150, and as part of registration the con provides: 3 hot meals a day, hot showers, several large canopies; other events and amenities; organization, safety and security needs.

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (5 votes)

Honestly? Fair enough. I still think there's a significant difference between camping conventions (Like Camp Feral) and hotel conventions like the ones I focused on above, if mostly because of an inherent and purposeful different of venue.

I also think that camp conventions can be limited in space, as camp grounds aren't usually meant to store as many people as hotel conventions are. Since I have an attendance requirement for a lot of the cons I talked about, that's why I'm mostly focusing on hotel conventions. Plus, they're uh... more well known.

I'm also quite new to the fandom, so I wasn't really familiar with a lot of camping conventions, in all honesty. I do think that it is worth talking about camping conventions, and I think that a big camping convention sounds awesome (renting out an entire campground for a whole weekend... mua ha ha). I just didn't have the time to talk about it here, I guess.

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

Thanks for the reply! My point is that if you are going to go to the effort to make an article and a new map when one already exists, you should have a well thought out definition of what a con is and isn't. If you had just said "this is a map of only hotel fur cons," that would have been fine.

IMO, the main criteria that makes a con different from something like an open invite furmeet: It has a higher level of organization than a furmeet or houseparty. Often: a con-chair, staff, volunteers, a schedule, multiple defined spaces for different purposes, registration fees that pay for lots more than just the venue/food/drinks, etc.

It doesn't matter if it is indoors or outdoors. I don't think most people would consider Burning Man a meet.

The number of attendees doesn't matter either. First year hotel fur cons often only get around 100-300 attendees.

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

For those wondering what the pawprint colors on map mean:
1) GREEN pawprint = furry convention (1000+)
2) PURPLE pawprint = furry convention (close to 1000)(798 or more)
3) RED pawprint = "furry conventions" (less than 798)

(source: from visiting the map at Google + text from article)

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (4 votes)

How in the hell does Oklahoma have three furry conventions, though? (Also, uh, wow that's kind of embarassing I'm just learning about AnthroExpo.) (Plus the defunct Oklacon.) You didn't count Free For All (and I mean, who does?), but if you did, would that make Tulsa the only double convention city?

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (4 votes)

Well, there's the big camp called Wild Nights, Tails and Tornadoes (Tulsa), and AnthroExpo (Oklahoma City). It matches based on metro area, so it does make sense.

Also, even if I WERE to count Free Fur All (which I reeeeally don't want to), Tulsa would technically have two cons in its metro area, though not in its city. Dallas, San Jose, and Mesa in Arizona (kind of a suburb of Phoenix, which also has a convention) are all cities which have two furry conventions in their city limits. If you count metro areas, the bay area has 3, as does Phoenix (which I mentioned earlier lol). There's also 3 furry conventions in Czechia which are all quite close to eachother... for some reason (they aren't in Prague, either).

That doesn't mean Tulsa isn't weird, though. Dallas, San Jose, and Phoenix are all significantly larget than Tulsa, so the fact that Tulsa has 2 is very strange.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

So I was still short changing us ...

Obviously, the conditions around Tulsa gaining 2 conventions were ... yeah, unusual.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Not all that much to do, so people make their own entertainment?

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

I appreciate your input.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

On the parenthesis item about MFF becoming bigger than AC this year, I would argue that MFF has been bigger than AC since it passed its attendance rate in 2017:

https://www.flayrah.com/7171/midwest-furfest-usurps-anthrocons-record-and-become...

Indicating that AC was larger than MFF because AC 2022 was bigger than MFF in 2021, I did not consider fair for 2 reasons:

1) AC 2021 was not held, so technically the attendance was zero for an in person event (virtual I'm not sure).

2) MFF 2021 was at a very percarious time when the hotel and US industry were pushing hard to get people to come back, but many furs were still not comfortable about attending so soon. Thus causing a dip in attendance, one that disappated a bit by the time AC came back in 2022, and clearly is more disipated now for MFF 2022. So to me AC 2022 to MFF 2022 is an apples to apples comparison, where MFF 2021 is an outlier due to circumstances outside the convention.

I will highly agree on the capacity for furry conventions to be a good way to have an excuse to go outside and see the world while being part of a culture that is a bit more familiar to fall back on. Especially given the strength of the US dollar compared to those of other countries as we all deal with inflation (but some worse than others). So the next few years may be a good time to do foreign travel if a U.S. furry was considering such expeditions.

This unfortunately works both ways, as at least one foreign fur who attended MFF this year has indicated that it's a bit expensive for them to get what is in essence an experience where they are spread really thin to meet the people they want to meet.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Fair enough, though I started the map honestly a while ago, and MFF and Anthrocon were on that earlier (and more naiive) version on the map. I'm not going to change the original article just because that was my thinking at the time, but Anthrocon is still a very large and important convention.

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

MFF has been like that for years, as has AC. It's got to the point where you can't expect to see everyone and do everything that you might want to. Heck, that's hard enough to do at events one-fifth the size. On the plus side, you're likely to see some furs at multiple cons - but for European furs, if it's your one US con a year, it's a different matter.

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

We should definitely include Sonic Fan conventions too in this.

“Summer of Sonic” is in London, UK

“Weston-Super-Sonic” is in Weston-super-Mare, UK

“Sonic Revolution” is in St. Montebello, CA, USA

“Sonic the Comic-Con” is in York, UK

“Sonic Boom” is in San Diego, CA, USA

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

I didn't know that Sonic conventions were a thing, in all honesty. Where can I find attendance information?

Your rating: None Average: 4 (7 votes)

Thats a very American point of view.

Theres a lot of fun and smaller furry conventions in Europa.
KRAZ (CZ), Furrstein (CZ), Furvester (DE), Rügen Furcon (DE), NordicFuzzcon (Sverige), Flüüfff (Bruxelles, BE), Fauntastic (Lyon, FR), EAST (Suhl, DE), Furizon (Cavalese, IT), Golden Leaves Con (CH), et cetera.

Having fun at a con doesnt mean that it has to have 10000 attendees. Smaller cons feel more familiar and you always meet the same people at such cons, like a school furry holiday.

I recommend visiting one of those conventions. They feel such as amazing as Anthrocon each in their own amazing way.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (6 votes)

A lot of notes:
1: Yes, smaller cons are great. I've never had the opportunity to visit one yet (I've visited a total of 2 conventions, after all), but am also absolutely certain that they're great and that the more personal feeling of a smaller convention is well worth it for their attendees. I would likely benefit myself.
2: I'm more commenting about how the geography of bigger conventions in the US tells a story in and of itself. I never once stated that bigger conventions are inherently better, nor do I think that.
3: It wasn't my intention to even slightly imply that bigger conventions = better conventions. However, I do think that a bigger fandom = a better fandom. Perhaps a less personal one, but an overall better experience in my opinion. I also think that there will be more of those smaller, personal conventions in the future. Thus, as Eurofurence (for example) eventually and inevitably reaches over 10,000 attendees, the more personal and family-like feeling of the past fandom will not disappear, at least not entirely. In fact, if anything, more people will be ABLE to experience those smaller conventions, as there will simply be more of them in more places. (in other words: more people, more quality of conventions, and also more quantity too)
4: NordicFuzzCon is anything but a small furry convention. It has more attendees than MANY US conventions and JMoF as well. Maybe a medium-sized con, but not small.
5: It's true that the European furry community is quite large and important. To ignore the fandom's inherently American origins, however, is to not notice how overwhelming the American presence often is in both the fandom and on the internet at large. You did type that comment in English, after all.
6: I did have a very American perspective in this article. However, I'm mostly trying to talk to people within America, as I cannot speak for the perspectives of people in Europe. I'm much more knowledgeable with Latin America. I do agree that there's an inherent America-centrism within America that's incredibly problematic, and although I exhibit it myself to a degree, I was wanting to both talk about the fandom within America and (in the International Expansion section) break some stereotypes that a lot of Americans have of Latin America, specifically.
7: I think that the fandom will get better as time goes on, as the more people are in it, the more opportunities for unique cool art, music, and chances for connection will appear. This means that while MFF or Eurofurence, as examples, will get less personal and more overwhelming, at the same time the fandom will still not only have smaller conventions, but also more opportunities to create a better fandom.

Overall, the growth of the furry fandom and its many conventions is, in my opinion, inevitable. However, we can either lament about it and yearn for "better days" in the past (they were not better, by the way) or we can embrace it and simply put effort into making the fandom as accepting and cool as it always has been. Perhaps I will write about some of the negatives/cons (ha) of larger conventions and how we, as a fandom, can make it easier for people to not only enjoy the high energy and city-like feeling of larger conventions, but also the lower energy and town-like feeling of smaller conventions.

Hopefully this response didn't sound too mean or anything.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Putting more perspective on this - here's a week's worth of visits to Inkbunny. Obviously, this is an English-language site, which may cause some bias (particularly in areas where English-language competence is not seen as valuable) but we get plenty of traffic from elsewhere to show that the site is accessible and known in those locations:

North America    62.9%   229,901
Europe           21.3%    78,005
Asia              6.5%    23,909
South America     5.5%    20,005
Oceania           2.3%     8,339
Central America   1.0%     3,657
Africa            0.2%       818

What this doesn't show is that the proportion of traffic from North America is decreasing. Specifically, other locations are growing faster, particularly in Asia, South America and Central America, but also parts of Europe. It could be that this is a site-specific factor, but my gut feeling - based in part on the growth of conventions in those areas - is that it's a fandom-wide phenomenon.

Breaking that down a bit, you can see that even now the USA is the majority of traffic, despite a long tail (0.3% was unknown):

USA          55.5% 202,791
UK            5.4% 19,674
Canada        4.7% 17,272
Germany       3.8% 13,816
Mexico        2.7% 9,838
Australia     2.0% 7,338
Brazil        2.0% 7,212
France        1.7% 6,122
Japan         1.6% 5,992
Argentina     1.2% 4,501
Poland 	      1.2% 4,257
Italy         1.0% 3,545
Spain         1.0% 3,481
Netherlands   0.9% 3,256
Sweden        0.8% 2,875
Chile         0.7% 2,518
Finland       0.6% 2,189
Philippines   0.6% 2,115
Norway        0.6% 2,057
Vietnam       0.5% 1,893
Colombia      0.5% 1,837
Thailand      0.5% 1,807
Taiwan 	      0.5% 1,803
Denmark       0.5% 1,791
Indonesia     0.5% 1,788
South Korea   0.4% 1,620
Peru          0.4% 1,607
Malaysia      0.4% 1,576
Czechia       0.4% 1,475
Russia        0.4% 1,355
Ukraine       0.4% 1,321
Belgium       0.3% 1,269
Hungary       0.3% 1,169
Austria       0.3% 1,163
Romania       0.3% 1,100
Venezuela     0.3% 999
New Zealand   0.3% 966
Ireland       0.3% 963
Puerto Rico   0.3% 955
Singapore     0.2% 896
India         0.2% 874
Portugal      0.2% 743
Switzerland   0.2% 670
Hong Kong     0.2% 645
South Africa  0.2% 556
China[blocked]0.1% 506
Ecuador       0.1% 479
Costa Rica    0.1% 457
Panama        0.1% 456
Guatemala     0.1% 400
Israel 	      0.1% 400
Saudi Arabia  0.1% 393
Bulgaria      0.1% 367
Slovakia      0.1% 360
Belarus       0.1% 331
Croatia       0.1% 300

The USA may no longer be a majority of visits within the next five years, but it will remain at the fandom's core for decades to come. Similarly, while many languages are represented within fandom (WikiFur has projects in over 20), it may take a while to overcome the ~70% native English speaker bias. Those in the middle or upper classes who are most likely to have free time to participate in fandom may also be more likely to have English as a second language than their compatriots.

We're blocked in China, and were in Russia; some use VPNs, via e.g. the Netherlands or Vietnam respectively, to evade this.

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I can reply in German or French just fine~
I just expect you to be a lazy anglophone and not speak anything else than English XD

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He said he knew Spanish, but I guess you don't know it. Today's lingua franca isn't derived from Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, or even French, but ancient proto-Frisian.

I'm not sure if any furry cons were founded specifically to offer a language alternative to English, but I could see it being seen as a fringe benefit to a smaller, more local audience.

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5. English is not only used in America, nor does its use imply there is American influence. English is widely-taught as a second language in almost every country in the world and so is used as a lingua franca. I'm working in science and have only lived in countries where English is a minority language (although in South Africa it is widely used for communication in many places) and science is highly-international. When you have people from multiple countries (and continents) you need one language that everyone can use, that happens to be English.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Why is English used as a lingua franca?

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Part of it is surely America's dominant cultural and economic position in the past few decades but I don't think that alone is likely enough to explain it. Japan has made major cultural exports in terms of electronics, anime, gaming and sushi but few people adopted Japanese. China has huge industrial and economic influence globally but the Chinese language doesn't spread, even where they are exerting their influence (except perhaps in close geographical regions). The US' influence likely gave English the edge over French, which was the global diplomatic lingua franca, but I think English was already poised for that sort of position due to the expanse and influence of the British Empire. That led to English being used in multiple countries and, through the Commonwealth, as a diplomatic language. Before WWII, America was quite isolationist.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Generally a good overview of major conventions around the world. There are a couple places which I think I could use a bit more bit more context or should be changed.

There is no need to make an arbitrary camp/convention distinction. They are not mutually exclusive. I think we can use Fred Patten's definition of a convention which, as I recall, had 3 requirements. A convention 1) requires registration to attend, 2) lasts at least one night on location (most people stay at the convention, they don't go home and then come back) and 3) there are scheduled events. I think there are many camp cons that meet all those requirements.

I just found it funny that you said "macro furs in America" but it wasn't about macro furs. :p

In terms of momentum, I think it's also worth remembering that while the first convention was held in the US, Eurofurence is currently the longest-running furry convention in the world. So there is plenty of momentum there. It doesn't invalidate your argument but I think it's worth noting.

Anthrocon also benefited from this arrangement, as it continued to have more room to grow and grow up until it became the second-biggest furry convention to this day.

The phrasing here implies that Anthrocon grew to the 2nd largest convention. That's a bit misleading as it was the largest convention in the world, I think by quite a margin, for several years in a row.

In the same way that MFF is located near a large international airport (ORD), Berlin (both by train and plane) is easily accessible from the rest of Europe, thus making Eurofurence truly European.

Further context could be important here. Eurofurence was designed to be truly European. Eurofurence has only been in Berlin since 2014 (and once in 1999), and it was already a big European convention at that point and moved for more space. For its first 10 years, it was in a new location every year; including Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Czechia.

Understanding both the non-native-English-speaking furry community’s potential to grow and the reasons why they haven’t reached the same heights as conventions in the US/Canada will help to break stereotypes and, perhaps, make our community more united and better for everyone.

This implies that the bigger conventions are better conventions and massive conventions are what we should all be aiming for. That is not always the case. I think several conventions are intended to be kept smaller for a more personal feel. That was a point of disagreement among Eurofurence staff early on and one of the founders left Eurofurence to found another convention because he didn't want it to keep growing to those huge sizes. Given there is no shortage of furs in Europe, perhaps one reason the conventions are not as big as the ones in the US is a matter of preference. The US has a tendency to go for size, whether it's conventions, cars, food portions. That's not necessarily what everyone is looking for.

On a not-so-much-furry note, at times it feels like you're also trying way too hard to be inclusive and that comes across disingenuous and unnecessary. Over valorising people for not speaking English or not being American or not being white or whatever does not help any argument. And at time it may also blue other issues which could be worth discussing. For example, you bring up wealth/poverty at several points usually with the assumption that as people get richer, there will be more furs. To a certain extent that may be true but it's not clear that it will be true to the same extent that you get the furry fandom in America. There had been some discussion about the topic in South Africa, because the South African furry fandom demographics do not represent the country's demographics. It may be that some groups have a stronger cultural identity, whether for good or bad, and it's possible that a stronger main cultural identity may reduce the chances that someone would seek out a sub-cultural identity like furry. It's hard to say, since it's difficult to ask people who didn't join the fandom why they didn't, and I don't know that field well enough to say anything with too much confidence. I would be cautious about attributing everything to money and neglecting other factors which can affect the growth of the fandom in other countries.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Although you gave me a comprehensive comment, I'll try my best to give a brief reply. Only because a lot of the things you brought up are also things that other commenters brought up, and many of which I already agreed with.

The Macro Furs thing was forced upon me by the editor lol.

You're absolutely right that there is plenty of momentum in Europe, but I think there's demand for big conventions in Europe. Paris Comic Con had an attendance of about 30,000 according to the website, which is 3 times more than MFF in 2019.

Some complains about phrasing is honestly me being a lot newer to writing in general, and simply something I can improve upon.

I've noted that bigger =/= better for furry conventions in other comments.

In terms of my views on wealth and inclusivity, it's true that the growth of the furry fandom is more complex than simple economics. Perhaps I should've stated that as people become richer, they're obviously more able and thus more likely to go to a convention in the first place, of any kind really. I don't see how not trying to be "inclusive," in your words, in any way detracts from the story.

The vast majority of commenters entirely missed the point of this article, which was to see what kinds of conclusions we can draw about the furry fandom by looking at the biggest conventions. This misses some historical context, as I am new to the fandom and don't know all of the best place to find resources of its history, but I still think that there are some interesting points raised in here. Perhaps I should do more research into European conventions so I can be more informed in the future (and maybe make another piece about how European conventions differ from American ones, namely in its history). It is very clear and obvious that I have a lot of growing to do as a writer, and perhaps some more opinion pieces for what I think about things, especially furries given the site we're on.

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Totally understandable. I deliberately didn't read the comments beforehand to not influence my own reply. Few were really worth discussing and were more extra background information and/or advice.

Things like "However, pretending that Mexico is a poor, crime-ridden country when it is a far more complicated and nuanced place than simply only poverty or only crime (although they still very much exist) is not only disingenuous, it is discriminatory and potentially racist." detracts from the story because none of that is relevant to the points about convention size and the furry fandom. It's also a dubious point because it is a poor country that does have a very high crime rate. Of course there are complications, there always are, but that doesn't invalidate the overall picture. And it's not racist to recognise there is poverty and crime in Mexico. It also becomes a form of othering when you treat people differently because of their race or nationality. We should treat people equally and criticisms of something like high crime rates or low levels of wealth are facts and should be addressed the same way regardless of what country we're talking about.

To really draw conclusions about the furry fandom from convention sizes, it might be good to have something to compare it to. For example, this Quora post (https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-largest-academic-conferences-in-science?share=1) suggests that the biggest scientific conferences are mostly in the US but scientific research has been going on in Europe for centuries more. Something like that would suggest that bigger furry conventions in the US have less to do with momentum and more to do with a different cultural approach to organising events. But that's just a quick thought, it would need a more thorough investigation to say anything concrete.

If you are interested in fandom history, I can recommend Joe Strike's book, Furry Nation. It's overall quite good despite some weaknesses. Unfortunately, one of the major weaknesses is that it's very America-centric. (I reviewed it here: https://www.flayrah.com/7272/review-furry-nation-joe-strike)

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Well, it is Furry Nation. Furry Planet is due out February 14; maybe you'll like that better. I did an email interview for it, covering Flayrah, WikiFur and Inkbunny (once he learnt I ran it).

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More books I need to read then. x.x I've got to get back into a proper reading habit.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Although this isn't furry stuff, I do still feel it is worth discussing. I brought up Mexico and its economic conditions because I mostly aimed this article at an American audience. I wanted to show that Mexico, despite the stereotypes held by many in the US, isn't some hell scape that shouldn't be treaded upon; it's a country that does, indeed, have people in it. This may sound like a basic assumption, but I see a lot of people who paint the rest of the world as some sort of weird "other" in a very unsympathetic way. Perhaps because I'm overly empathetic thanks to Autism (Autism is weird).

In regards to inclusivity, I would like to point out a recent point of contension in US Politics, because it is VERY VERY relevant here: the differences between equality and equity.

Equality is something like what you're describing - treating everyone the same regardless of skin tone, culture, disability, gender, et cetera. Good examples of movements that achieved equality include the civil rights movement in the 60s in the US, and the end of Apartheid in South Africa in the 90s. However, while these movements achieved a LOT of great things, they achieved more things in terms of political equality than economic. In the US, black families still have a far lower amount of wealth than white families do. In South Africa, the rate of unemployment is still far higher for blacks than it is for whites, that being 39% and 8.3% respectively.

Although both of these movements achieved a great amount of progress, the resulting policies of these decisions mostly removed the original barriers to opportunity against black people in the US and South Africa. As examples, in the US explicit Jim Crow laws were removed while in South Africa the explicit separation of black and white communities was removed. However, both of these somewhat ignored historical context and historical momentum. Since white families simply had (and have) more money, they could more easily pay for their children to go to college, start businesses, and more. Meanwhile, black families, who just had their literal barriers to opportunity removed, couldn't afford to fund their kids' college, start businesses, or many other things that the white families had opportunity to. In other words, they were (and in many ways are) unequal.

There's another term that describes a potential solution to this problem than equality does: equity. It involves artificially give those who are disadvantaged, in this case black people, more opportunities and greater chances for a home. This is something that was advocated for in the US and surely in South Africa (though I don't know as much about the latter case, since I live in the US). Desegregation bussing is a great example of an attempt at equity in the US, though because it ended and there weren't many other attempts at equity, many schools in the US today are still unofficially segregated. I would argue that we should try to reach for more equitable solutions in South Africa and the US, as the staggering racial inequality is offensive and sad.

Even though this furry article won't have much of an impact on racial stuff, it's still important to me to be... uh, nice. This is why I decided to talk so long about Mexico itself rather than Confuror specifically. Also, I will point out that according to the world bank that Mexico actually has more money per people (GDP per capita, nominal) than South Africa. If you're worried about inequality, South Africa is also VERY MUCH worse off than Mexico is. (Note: the gini index is a commonly used signifier to see how unequal wealth in a country is, with higher being worse. It's not perfect, but it is much better than the otherwise non-existent data we'd otherwise have.) So, in the same way that South Africa has rich people like Elon Musk, so does Mexico.

Yes, there are other aspects that contribute to the growth of the furry fandom, like culture and acceptance of furries. I also think that ignoring the economic reality of the world, which many furries accidentally do, is disingenuous. When we live in a world where money is so crucial and important, it's important to recognize that reality. In a similar way, we must also face the reality that racial inequalities still exist, and must be addressed. Yes, cultural differences can often be important too, and Europeans very may well have a different approach to conventions than the US does (though I doubt it, as I'm certain the 2006 World Cup in Germany was a giant event). That doesn't dismiss my philosophy, which is that there are things that can be learned from analyzing data.

There are multiple holes in my knowledge of the furry community due to simply how new I am. However, I don't think being too inclusive is one of them.

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Equity is a horrible perversion of the values which we should be building into society. It fails to see people as individuals with their own history and value but reduces them to some or other group identity and then assume that they must fit a particular stereotype. It assumes, without evidence, that any difference from some idealised composition is a sign of discrimination and serves as a cover to prejudice and discrimination.

At best, equity is well-intentioned but it does not work in practice. Aside from repeating the mistakes of the past, it ignores the realities of the present and will lead to the degradation of whatever organisations implement it. There are many, far better, options to fix social inequalities without resorting to racial discrimination and quotas.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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*cunty Apartheid voice*

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I just found it funny that you said "macro furs in America" but it wasn't about macro furs. :p

Isn't it? ;-) Many would say the people and events mentioned are… giants within the fandom.

The original submission has no headers; I added some to add shape to the essay and break it up into logical sections. Logged-in contributors can see the edit history under the Revisions tab (though it may misattribute a revision if tags are quick-added, as that system isn't revision-aware and changes the current revision).

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You seem like you've got some big questions about the fandom, and some unique trains of thought about trends as well. This was an interesting read and I wonder what the upcoming one will be like. :D

I am something of a con attendance number nerd myself, and the line in your article about not having the money to travel to them all hit home with me. I have been working long hours to go well out of my way from my west coast Vancouver area Canadian comfort zone to travel to cons all over North America. So if you've got anything you'd like to discuss about what makes all those cons so different from each other, I offer myself as a living resource! I've definitely taken public transit to these cons from the airport a time or two! And I've done DenFur twice now, it's a great con.

The only "criticism" I have is one that was already said, assuming Anthrocon is "the biggest" or the best example. It hasn't rightfully held the title in some time for "biggest ever", and while I have not yet done the con myself, I find a lot of the rest of the Top 10 most attended to have some really well rounded con experiences. I've loved Further Confusion, Texas Furry Fiesta and Megaplex the most I think (but the latter two are in transitional phases now that they've grown out of their longtime venues, so new waters await them both).

And congrats on speaking Spanish! My roots are Mexican, but I sadly do not speak much more than conversational Spanish. Darn forced Canadian bilingualism! Didn't even work.

I'm a different furry with different opinions.

Debut Album out now go stream it plz
https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/cassidycivet/double-take

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About the author

zeldstarroread storiescontact (login required)

a Dragon from Colorado USA, interested in music, geography, trains, some video games and languages

I'm Zeldstarro, a furry in Colorado and a musician (kind of). I've only been open to the community about being a furry since this year (2022), but have been closeted for more like 8 years. I really enjoy music, geography, public transit, some video games, and other things I have currently forgotten. I do need to develop more inteests, sadly. I also speak spanish (despite not being hispanic AT ALL), though I like to try to stay humble about it.