Furries You Meet at Camp Tiny Paws (August 2018)

by Patch O'Furr

When you’re tiny, less is more. When you’re a real-life 4-legged guinea pig named Tiny, having a convention named for you is a big honor. And for a moderately sized community, a smaller con can bring outsized fun.

That’s the vibe I got from my trip to this 2nd-year convention in Danbury, Connecticut. It drew around 300 attendees. Where I am in the San Francisco Bay Area, “the world’s greatest concentration of furries per square mile” (wikifur) has casual monthly meets that bring hundreds. It can be too much to keep up with. Do you ever get that feeling? Try events where furries are less dense. It’s like a throwback to a fresher, younger fandom.

Organizers K’gra and Nobody bring lots of positive energy for that. It cuts through negativity of current events like a rainbow laserbeam. They laughed about me being a mild, laid-back California dog person, and said “I can’t believe you came all the way here for this!” I said, “I can’t believe you invited me!”

Being a Guest of Honor came with a duty to support the con. The panel I did on self-employment (and DIY power of fandom) was well attended.  Other well-known furry names gave support too. Meeting Uncle Kage and Boozy Badger made me appreciate them for bringing their mix of long experience and newer yet super vocal membership. And not just themselves, but their family and friends.

Welcoming kids and families makes sense in a fandom that started over 30 years ago. It doesn’t always please people who want a party vibe, but there’s already dozens of cons with special focus, from waterparks to casino activities, so why not let kids and parents have just one?

Sometimes there’s also attitudes that furries can’t handle themselves well enough (often from people with no connection to events, no kids or reason to criticize). But of course they can.  Every parent does grown-up things to have kids, and then they raise them. That’s THEIR job.

Every kid I saw seemed to love their parents for letting them come and hang out with friends their size, including when I helped judge them in the talent show. Otherwise I stayed on the sidelines and hung out with the older crowd in this article (who had their own things to do, including room parties), but it was super nice to see them wear the cartoon art I did for the con:

When I was a kid and first discovering the furry fandom, I would have loved to have conventions like @TinyPaws_Con and have older furries like to talk to. – @DaltonRaccoon

Anyone who’s been paying attention to Furry fandom’s demographics knows the average age has been trending younger over the past decade. Kudos to folks providing safe and age-appropriate programming so kids won’t be left out. Our fandom will keep growing and thriving as a result. – @XydexxUnicorn

More than the programming set this con apart. It might not be obvious until K’gra made a topic that got some good answers.

At Tiny Paws, everything was all right. If you hear noise online about “the fandom is divided” or that any certain group is unwelcome, look at this growing event. If new, experienced, young, grown-up, male, female, and different people can all make a healthy mix, the future is in good paws.

More pics – check out the adorable kids in the talent show!

Summercat and The Furry Library – a collection from the 1970’s to now, with stuff like the con book from ConFurence 1.

Beeton Nukicoon – won “Koda’s Choice” (and secretly, my top vote) in the talent show for a song from Newsies. It was so good people cried.

Saiko Kitty’s first furry con and cool new shades.

She’s from East Hampton CT, and told me she does go to others like Dragon Con. She said these events can be exciting and overwhelming and hot but she was having fun for sure. (From xSaikoMaikox on Furry Amino:)

While it was a super small con, (hence the name) it was actually kind of nice at the same time. You got to know everyone there and that’s much different from what I’m used to since I usually attend conventions with 15,000+ people. At larger cons you never see the same person twice, but here everyone had a familiar face and that was definitely a welcomed change for me! I ended up leaving happily with some loot in hand, (a travel sized fursuit tail for Saiko and some cool new shades) and can’t wait to go to another furry convention soon! x3

Brer Badger of M&T Comics – watching the fandom evolve.

His specialty is furry comics. Based in New Jersey, he mostly does furry cons east of the Mississippi. He saw the registration double in the 2nd year and hoped the dealer den would pick up. He was at the first FurFright (organized by some staff of Tiny Paws) and has been friends with K’gra for a long time. He did a “history of the fandom” panel for Tiny Paws.

Brer Badger sees the fandom constantly evolving. New generations come in, from age 16-30, but there’s also long time members in their 60’s like him staying with it. He said Furry would grow and change unlike others, because ones like SF fandom have a base in very structured TV shows and movies. If you went to a Star Trek show and wore the wrong shirt and insignia, you’d catch a lot of criticism. But here you can be a yellow and pink dragon with purple polka dots and you’re not wrong, everyone loves it.

Saba (King Sabear) – I bought that shirt.

@kingsabear told me that everyone is so friendly.  Saba came to the con with 2 friends from Long Island. They got into furry when they happened to meet at Mochafest (an indie comics show in NY City). They had furry art and recognized each other was into that.

Ed from Dragon’ Lair: grew up in retail, and Anthrocon is his biggest setup.

(Online shop: Anddragonsohmy.com – Facebook: @plushizoo.) Ed told me he’s been in business for almost 35 years. He does about a dozen cons a year (geek, fantasy, and furry) and is otherwise retired from teaching computer sciences for 40 years. He came to support Tiny Paws while it’s still getting started.

The business is run by Ed, his wife, and a few helpers. He’s interested in doing a panel: “are you nuts to go into retail?” He grew up in it. He says con dealing is different from a 7 day a week business – if you don’t want to go, you don’t have to. He refined it a dozen times over the years since starting at a flea market. It’s had products in and out of fashion from bumper stickers to kitchen gadgets, fantasy figurines, ceramics, shirts and plushes. There’s some net sales but most happen in person. Some shows don’t make a profit with a lot of costs including travel, tables and paying help. The biggest setup they do is Anthrocon.

Matt & Darce from RCSI Publishing – met on alt.fan.furry and got married.

(Web: rcsipublishing.com – Twitter: Darcsowers). 5 years ago they moved to the area from Boston. They were out of the con scene for years, after trying to print comics with others but there was a business setback. They loved AC for the parade. Putting cons in summer is weird because it must be hot in the suits! Furry is a friendly welcoming group to them. Finding it came after being into stuff like Redwall and Ducktales, but they didn’t even realize it was furry until learning there was a scene from alt.fan.furry. One commissioned the other for a furry logo, they started dating and got married.

Rainbowz Pinata – being furry is really being human.

(Twitter: @RainbowzPinataHer local scene is near Washington DC, where she teaches. She loves the fandom and having a creative place for kids to express themselves, especially people with no outlets because everyone needs one. She said we’re all people having fun, and anonymity can help people be more human with less judgement. When you get to choose a species we can laugh about it and it doesn’t matter.  The real world is often divided by race but being furry is really being human.

Rainbowz met a Jewish woman who brought her kids because she heard about the con but didn’t know what furry fandom is. They came to find out and had a blast. They couldn’t participate in work and tech because the Sabbath is a day of rest, so it was perfect to do crafts and get face painting. Having a family oriented craft room was good for kids and the panels were good for parents.

The kids loved hugging her and she got dogpiled by 3-4 of them. Her suit is personally made. She paid about $500 for fur and did hand sewing while her husband did machine sewing. The hooves were made with a folder from the dollar store.

Grandpaw – a multi talented fur with beekeeping, American Sign Language, and fursuiting.

(Twitter: @deaftech99) He loves helping the community, and works for the largest Beekeeping supply company in the US. (Technically it’s livestock agriculture.) They donated a bee box for the charity auction, that’s a starter hive costing $125-150 and was one of the most bidded on items. It will help the con to have year 3. He donated honey for dealers and passed out candy from his work.  He also will have a member of the beekeeping society come do a panel (every area has one, they teach hobbyists how to keep bees). I joked about bringing their best behaved bees and he said they bring an older comb to explain how they are built.

Grandpaw has hearing loss so knows ASL for that. He’s the polar bear that signs, and does lip reading with cues. He did an ASL panel that got the largest crowd of all panels he’s done and filled the room. He will definitely do it next year. @graysonAwelch made silent suiter tags (it crosses over to fursuit pantomime acting). There are a number of deaf furs, and he and Indigo from Furthemore love educating about it. It helps people feel more normal about getting out in the community. So does furry.

He got seriously into fursuiting by trying on a suit borrowed from a friend. They were friends for 7 years before meeting face to face the first time. He says it’s wonderful to give others the experience of being in a suit. It helps when there is anxiety in the way of talking to people. After that it feels good to be outgoing and talk without panic attacks.

Effluvia and Scents Fur All – those look good enough to eat

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Look what’s in store for next year (a fighter for a better fandom).