It’s been two days since Texas Furry Fiesta wrapped up, about enough time that I could recover, drag myself to a computer, log in and type up a blog. That seems to show just how much a three-day convention can take out of you, especially if it’s your first time. Suffice to say, I loved it. If that is how furcons play out, it’s an experience I’d want to relive again, unsure as I am I’d be able to in the near future.
Apart from the zen feeling of being surrounded by six-foot-tall fluffy animal-people, I took away a few unexpected lessons. For more experienced con-goers this may not be all too accurate, but for me personally…
No matter how big it is, you will eventually bump into everyone.
This year, TFF counted out over 2400 attendees. While this may seem overwhelming to a newcomer, the hotel was thankfully large to keep bottlenecks to a minimum. Even more surprising was that despite the large numbers, it’s not all that easy to get lost in a crowd.
Given survey results from previous years by UC Davis and the University of Waterloo, one can assume about 20% of attendees wore either a partial or full fursuit, a little under 500 in all. I came in with the ability to recognize maybe a couple dozen furries by suit, many which I ended up bumping into. The crowd seemed to have a perfect balance between feeling large and still bringing you in with familiar faces. I never expected that while picking up a book in the dealer’s den, that its author would be standing right next to me, and more than happy to sign my copy. When I turned around, a popular dragon fursuiter was right behind me, and it’s quite likely I found her again disguised as a red panda. Only in this fandom can you attend the concert of a relatively well-known hip-hop artist, then find him a few hours later out of his tiger suit, playing covers on one of the many baby grand pianos scattered in hallways throughout the hotel. Even with some effort, I had the fortune of finding friends from right here in Houston, including one which up until that point I only knew from DeviantArt.
Even with the familiar faces that come with a decade floating around in the online fandom, I came across a few pleasant surprises. A wolf in a Krispy Kreme apron handing out donuts is quite the unforgettable experience, as is becoming a new fan to many in the artist’s alley.
Planning is everything, but you’re still probably not gonna do everything.
This was Friday evening.
About the only time in which schedules at large lined up were at the beginning of the day, and at 2pm on Saturday, when all activity ceased to give people time to catch the fursuit parade. Naturally, the rest of the time, events and panels overlapped so often that I had to decide what to sacrifice. Did I want to listen to BANDTHRO, or learn how to play Werewolf? Did I want to play Ironclaw, or get my next ref sheet done in an art jam? Once I figure out what to bug out of early and where to catch the next thing, my stomach growls and I realize I hadn’t even considered dinner. A convention of any sort can take a lot out of you.
At the same time, I can understand the appeal for repeat attendees. Every time you go to a con, you gain a more complete experience, and learn time management skills that can be brought home with you, and help you make new friends at the hotel.
Since everyone is essentially equal there, you’re in good hands.
It took about five hours for me to drive from Houston to Dallas. Many others came from even further. Some people came in full suit, some had maybe a tail strapped to their belts, and many others didn’t have a suit at all. There were professional artists there, writers, performers, and their amateur equivalents, every species imaginable, families bringing their children, greymuzzles on the verge of retirement, every fetish and peculiarity on display, and people in every economic position imaginable, from those who just had enough money to attend the con to those practically supporting the dealer’s den.
And no one cared.
Specifically, sharing a common interest, no matter how obscure, is a stronger equalizer than you may think; even more so when there is no common definition for “furry.” Knowing how exclusive and wary of newcomers some nerd fandoms can get, this was a welcome surprise. The fact alone that we were all fascinated by anthropomorphic animals and art was enough to create lifelong friendships. It’s a place where everyone deserves a big soft furry hug (621 rule applies, of course), and any two people from any corner of the world can sit down to a card game, and where the person you saw performing on stage the day before can call out your name and wave to you in a crowded hallway.
That’s the second longest-lasting thing I took home from TFF.
First was the con funk.