by Patch O'Furr
Thanks for help from Poppa Bookworm, and tips from Arrkay (Culturally F’ed) and Fuzzwolf (FurPlanet.)
In the 90’s, ConFurence was THE convention for all furries worldwide. 26 years after ConFurence 0 broke ground, the subculture has gained enough steam for some local populations to get multiple cons. It’s a sign of a healthy community. Areas or cities like that make great examples to learn from. Do they succeed? What does it say about fan support, and competition or cooperation to grow our awesome fandom?
Five places came to mind:
- San Jose, CA (Further Confusion and PAWcon, since 2014)
- Columbus, OH (Morphicon and Furlaxation, in 2012-2014)
- Toronto (Camp Feral! and Furnal Equinox, since 2010)
- Boston, MA (Maltese Fur Con and Anthro New England, in 2014)
- Pittsburgh, PA (Anthrocon and Western Pennsylvania Furry Weekend)
Healthy growth can bring a downside. Cons are growing large and well-attended enough to have critical security concerns. This month, Oklacon and Rainfurrest both announced dramatic cancelations due to misbehavior. Bad faith can get between organizers and their venues, and that gets bigger than internal fandom drama. However, it’s also natural for problems to grow when a population does. Be optimistic with a con every week, some place in the world.
Consider the hard work it takes to organize a con, and draw people to fly in from far away. Organizing could be a paid profession. Furries are lucky and loveable because theirs come from volunteering. This brings a risk of burnout and decline. It’s important to understand how and why. The decline of ConFurence coincided with the start of Further Confusion, which may have unintentionally divided the pool of supporters. 16 years after ConFurence 10 ended, multi-con locations can show examples for how to sustain what we love.
There’s much more than conventions in the hard-to-measure Furry subculture. They can only draw some members. But they can be considered to lead it’s growth. Con-goers, fursuiters, and fursuiting con-goers may be the most committed members of furry social life. They spend the tourist dollars that float Furry’s best public profile. Anthrocon’s $7 million tourism draw has earned more and more enthusiastic coverage. In 2015, it achieved a new benchmark, with their first public parade that was cheered on by 5,000 regular people of Pittsburgh. This is what the public sees.
Let’s look for insight from organizers. Dogpatch Press sent questions to ten cons in five locations: