Recently I attended CanFurence 2023 in Ottawa, Ontario. It was a good time! Previously I'd gone in 2016 for its first year, then later in 2021 and 2022. There's a really good established core of staff and volunteers that make it happen.
It's been growing at a decent pace, now with 1107 people, up from 863 last year, and it's the fourth-largest Canadian furry con. The cons up here are in two clusters. March is when Furnal Equinox and VancouFur happen; while Fur-Eh, CanFurence, Wild Prairie Fur Con and Camp Feral are all during July and August. We also may soon have another camping con, Camp Mani-Toebeans.)
This year's Tails and Tornadoes convention, held at the Marriott Tulsa Hotel Southern Hills of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is only the third furry convention I've been to. Previous conventions I have attended were Oklacon 2004 and Anthrocon 2017, and I only made it all the way to Pittsburgh due to being nominated for an Ursa Major award and wanting to attend the awards presentation (I ended being late and missing the announcement of my category, but I lost anyway). Tails and Tornadoes, like Oklacon before it, had the advantage of being cheap and nearby, as I am a local Oklahoman.
As I live only an hour from Tulsa, I made the decision to just commute daily to the convention, as I calculated that the price of gas would ultimately be cheaper than staying at the hotel for me, not to mention cutting out the hassle of actually booking a room and possibly even finding a roommate for the stay. So, I have no idea how the late night atmosphere of the convention was, or the reality of the room situation there. The truth is, that part, the social aspects of convention going is just not for me, despite the fact that it seems a primary draw for just about everyone else. Hence my relatively low total life convention attendance.
Our journey starts near Frankfurt am Main's main train station, where I pick up a friend. We head to Czechia, buying a vignette at the Czech border; arriving at Hauenštejn Castle, near the German border, after a four-hour drive.
This is it! A medieval castle, some parts of it still in restoration; furries with all their luggage waving to us and welcoming and greeting us in excitement. They are just as excited as we are.
The Zeitgeist was markedly different mid 2019 when the local furry community started looking forward to their next annual get-together. Compared to Camp Feral in some quarters, the recipe was just about perfected back in 2017. An intimate, all-inclusive convention where the emphasis is on community and group activities. South-Afrifur is the brainchild of the visionary that was Ivic Wulfe that saw the first proper furry convention held on the African continent. Three years strong and going from strength to strength. But, of course, 2020 happened. And the fandom wasn't spared.
The organizers did the sensible thing and postponed the in-person meet not once, but twice, so that the pandemic could run its course. So profound was the isolating effects of the lock-down that an online only local convention Fursaverance saw its debut. There were cries of jubilation when it was announced that South-Afrifur would return in 2022. Covid would not be the end of the troubles, though. In May 2022 - just as the convention organizers went all-hands-on-deck - news came that Ivic Wulfe passed away.
Over 14-18 August, Berlin's Estrel hotel was filled to capacity with furs attending Eurofurence 25: 'Fractures in Time' - both the largest furry convention outside the United States (attracting 3412 this year; a 400 increase), and the oldest running furry convention in the world. EF25 celebrated 25 years since Unci made the post on alt.fan.furry leading to the con's creation.
Due to the eponymous fractures in time, Eurofurence 25 started by showing the closing video during the opening ceremonies! That was hardly the only disturbance in time and space, as attendees also saw Uncle Kage announcing the move of Anthrocon to Pittsburgh before time stabilised enough to continue as normal. It was the most impressive opening of the past five years, and you can get a sense of the excitement from one attendee's upload on YouTube. Beyond the opening ceremonies, it's impossible for any one person to see everything. I'll give an idea of what I saw and what was going on so that everyone has an idea of what they may be able to expect in future years.
Update 03/09: The final charity total is €42 105,37.
Eurofurence 24 ran from 22 August to 26 August this year. It was the biggest one so far and a great opportunity to meet friends from all over and enjoy oneself. There were several panels, discussions and events which are worth noting. However, conventions are very personal experiences, so while I will focus on some larger themes, your own con experiences may vary. I have previously reported on Eurofurence 21 and Eurofurence 23.
Furry Event China (referred to henceforth as FEC) is a number of firsts for me with regards to attending a furry convention:
- The convention itself was held inside of an event space of a public mall rather than the usual convention center
- It was my first furry convention experience not of a Western demographic
- It was the first convention I attended outside of North America.
- Actually, it was my first furry convention at an event that wasn't called VancouFur
Given this, and an assortment of other differences we will be going over, it was definitely an experience that I will never forget.
One of the drawbacks of living in South Africa is that the furry scene is currently rather small. Despite attempts to bring furs from all over the country together for a national meet, we had limited successes and, even when we managed a national furmeet, only assembled between 14 and 16 attendees. Things have improved during the last few years, and meet sizes have increased quite dramatically, even to the point that plans are underway to reboot the South Afrifur convention in 2016.
So, when I moved to Europe, I was glad to finally have the opportunity to attend proper, large-scale furry conventions. I chose two different cons to attend. One was Lakeside Furs, which is a relatively small (approximately 50 attendees) Austrian convention. It made sense as I was now living in Austria and it offered a way to meet the Austrian furry community. I also chose Eurofurence which, as the largest furry convention in Europe, is an almost obligatory furry visit. Although I didn't realize it at the time, both Eurofurence and Lakeside Furs were started by Unci, although he is no longer involved with Eurofurence.
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.
GaymerX, the first gaming convention focused on LGBT themes, won media buzz and crowds through active inclusion. Inviting allies in "geek culture" to an "arms-open party for anyone who wants to join", it drew over 2,000 to San Francisco's Japantown (a heavy turnout for a first con, compared to established furry conventions.) Founder Matt Conn called it "just the start".
The last time I did a report for Flayrah, someone complained that being mostly interested in furry comics and webcomics doesn't make one a 'fringe' furry. Well, there wasn't a single comic-related event in over 160 program items. A couple of panels on making cartoons, and two or three categories in the Ursa Major awards for 2012, which were announced at the con, but that's it. Still plenty for me to enjoy, though.
Like every year since CaliFur V, CaliFur IX took place at the Irvine Marriott Hotel in Irvine, California, on May 31–June 2, 2013. This year’s theme was “FURtual Reality”. There were two guests-of-honor: Maxwell Alexander Drake, the Author GoH, author of the Moonbeam Young Adult Fantasy Award-winning novels in 2009 and 2011 (the first two novels in his Genesis of Oblivion Saga), and their publisher, Imagined Interprises, Inc. in Las Vegas; and NecroDrone, the Artist GoH, “BDSM Illustrator and Dominatrix extradiordinaire!” Official attendance was 1,178; an increase of over two hundred. Due to my continuing poor health, I was in a wheelchair, with my sister Sherrill pushing me. We could only attend for Saturday the 2nd.
The Grand Sierra, location of the first Biggest Little Furry Convention (May 3-5, 2013), was packed with enthusiastic crowds of casino visitors. A person with free time or money couldn't avoid fun if they tried. It had restaurants, swimming, bowling, gambling, movies, go karts, and more attached to a large and classy hotel. Holding a furry convention there just made things extra outrageous.
Even with the planned options, the place offered good fun just for wandering around. A buddy and I wandered out a side exit that led nowhere special. On the way back in, I was stopped by a blonde woman who looked like a vacationing professional. She gestured with an astonished look, and asked, "What's all this about?"
"It's a theatrical thing. It's for a Furry convention", I said.
I explained about people who like role-playing and creativity. She asked about the costumes.
"No two are alike," I said, "I don't build them, but there's a lot of artists who do it here."
"You're doing pretty good at explaining this," she said. "I just don't know how to take it seriously from a big talking dog!"
"You're doing pretty good yourself," I told her. "And that's the point. Being silly!"
Fur the 'More, Baltimore’s first furry convention, took place on the first week of April. April is known for its rain, and whenever it rains, it pours. It was to be my first small convention, but it was certainly not as small as many other new conventions.
My own experience, compared to other furs, is limited: Anthrocon 2011 & 2012, and MFF 2011. Today I review this hatchling. I’ve included some personal stories – the greatest convention stories are personal. Besides, if you don’t have stories to tell, than what was the point of going on the adventure?
Crossaffliction is working on a sort into categories of all Flayrah’s posts. He has started at the beginning in January 2001, and is so far through September 2004. He notes that as of that date, there are only seven Furry convention reports. “[T]hey seem to have fallen out of fashion as of late. In case you hadn't noticed.”
He is right. I have complained about the difficulty that this makes in writing a history of Furry fandom. Early s-f fans wrote convention reports of five to ten pages in their fanzines. When Sam Moskowitz wrote his history of s-f fandom in the 1930s, and Harry Warner, Jr. wrote his of s-f fandom in the 1940s, and I wrote a history of the World S-F Convention from 1939 through 1948 in 1976, we had no trouble getting information on the conventions because of the long, detailed con reports in the fanzines. But there has been little of this in Furry fandom. A Furry con report tends to be little more than, “I went to the con and I had a good time”, or, “A lot of people caught the con crud”, or posting a half dozen or so photos of unidentified Fursuiters.
To do something about this, here is my very incomplete report of CaliFur VIII just past. I hope that other attendees can add to it.