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Midwest FurFest

COVID-19 pandemic causes furry convention closures and delays worldwide

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As governments restrict gatherings of people, furry conventions are being postponed or canceled. Here's a quick run down of events in 2020 and their status as of November 4 12:22 EDT (UTC-4) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic - updates to come.

A new section has been added for past events impacted for historical purposes. More information will be added to deal with virtual versions of a physical gathering if applicable starting July 25th.

Links go to statements if available, or to their Twitter feed or site. See also: Furry Fandom and the Internet forced back to roots by viral outbreak

'Rolling Stone' asks if Furries will go mainstream, but are they already?

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I was browsing my Google news feed, as people who read non-fiction writing tend to, and low and behold, a news article from Rolling Stone came up entitled Will Furries Ever Go Mainstream? The reporter reviews his experiences while attending Midwest FurFest last December.

It’s a good piece that poses the question of whether our fan club, that has grown to the size it has in Rosemont, will garner mainstream attention - or acceptance. It's also long, and coming from me you know that’s saying something.

Like most coverage deemed “positive”, they do seem to marginalize the adult aspects of sexual expression in the fandom pretty quickly by saying that it was not the “main aspect of the fandom”. However, like most clever furs they snuck in a risqué quote about foxes:

dozens of six-foot alligators, snakes, lizards, and other assorted reptiles scramble to pose for a group photo.
[...]
On the floor, about three dozen foxes lie on top of each other in a “fur pile,” orange-and-white limbs and bellies knotted together on the ground.

I see what you did there Rolling Stone. You should be proudly ashamed.

But back to the concept of going mainstream. It isn’t a new question within the fandom which can bring excitement or concern depending on who you ask. We claimed it was happening when Disney used the word “anthropomorphic” to describe the world of Zootopia.

However, I would like to claim that, yes, we are entering the mainstream, whether we like it or not. I even have evidence that we may already be there.

The Good Clown, the Bad Clown, and The Furry Con

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Midwest Furfest has come to learn that being the largest furry convention in the world comes with its follies as news broke of an infamous alt-right provocateur, Milos Yiannopoulos, setting his sights on the gathering. After he went public with this, and word started to spread around, the pressure was on for the convention to make a decision on the matter of this particular would-be attendee.

In a statement released by the convention they said that his presence would not be appropriate for the goal of giving attendees an enjoyable gathering experience.

In return there have been statements by the banned individual that they plan on showing up to the event anyway. With this debacle covered by many outlets outside the fandom such as the Rolling Stone, it has inspired other far right political actors, such as the Proud Boys, to claim they’ll try and be disruptive of the event as well. Convention security has been working with the venues and law enforcement to ensure that precautions are taken. Furs have been informing other attendees to take necessary steps and be aware when attending this December’s gathering.

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!