Thank you for your interest in ConFurence!
Now, just what IS ConFurence? It is a little like any other kind of convention (plumbers, doctors, shriners, etc.) A little like a trade show (The Consumer Electronics Show, The Housewheres Show, or a car or boat show) and a little like one of thoes weekend seminars where people can “network” to improve their social life or livelyhood. It’s also nothing like any of the above.
Science Fiction/Fantasy conventions are the root of ConFurence’s family tree. These gatherings were originally for fans of SF/F literature, in times where such materials were considered sub-standard by the mainstream book market. Times have obviously changed, and maybe the SF/F conventions helped bring about that change.
For more then 40 years these conventions evolved, and eventually embraced all other SF/F media; first motion pictures, then domestic television, and finally media from around the world. Membership at these events include many diverse interests such as costume and make-up, special effects, film making, music and dance, strategic and role-playing games, ameteur press and networking, art, writing and publishing, drama and period combat demonstrations, alternative lifestyles, the list is practically endless. At these conventions, people of all ages, from all over the world, meet and share their experiences.
Room Parties, which take place after normal programming hours, are an important part of these conventions. They are smaller, more intimate sub-sets of the entire convention menbership. The parties may be for other groups promoting their convention, or a future site for one. Some parties are for specific talent groups, like artists or costumors; while other parties are for fans of specific authors, stories, films or television shows. Groups within the greater whole of fandom hold room parties, too, such as members of amateur press associations (closed membership magazines made up of individual contributions) or members of computer networks. The room parties, called Furry Parties, were the origin point of our ConFurence. These informal gatherings helped us find each other, driven by our common interests.
What kind of being attends a ConFurence? There is no specific template for a ConFurence member, beyond a shared, compelling interest in animals. No, we are not a club for zoologists (though some of our members might be…). ConFurence is not a hunting club, nor a wildlife conservation society (though, some of our members are involved in such persuits) The interest which we share is of animals as symbols, icons, representations in literature, art and media. The images are many and varied, from comic and cartoon characters to extra-terrestrials; realistic or abstract. We may be fans of someone elses creations, we might be working individually or together to create some form of entertainment for an audiance; or we may create something very special to share with our closest comrads. In any case, the key to ConFurence is animals. Anthropomorphics (a term with means things which resemble a man; that is, animals who look or act like humans) or, to use the term we have grown to accept (for lack of a better one…) Furries. Furry is a catch-all word. It applies to the characters themselves (Buggs Bunny, Omaha the Cat Dancer, Chewbaka, etc), the creators (i.e. he is a Furry writer… she is a Furry artist… they are a Furry publisher), and the fans, too.
The first Furry parties happend at conventions in 1986. By 1989, enough interest had been shown by a sufficent number of people that the concept of a specific Furry convention was tested, at our ConFurence Zero. Attendance was under 100 people, but the members made up for the small numbers with such enthusiasm that ConFurence 1 was held in January, 1990. That year, membership topped the 100 mark, and ConFurence became a regular event, with the 5th gathering, ConFurence 4, to be held in January 1993.
Just what goes on at ConFurence? We have a fine Art Show, inovative discusion groups, an area for dealers, an area for artists to demonstrate their talents, special guests, costume competition, gaming, filking (a particular type of folk music, realted to SF/F fandom), a video screening room, and some very speical events!
Art Show: This is the most important event at ConFurence. Furry art has always been the most immidiate manifestation of the passion, and we dedicate a great deal of effort to presenting it! The art shows at ConFurence have always been far larger then one would expect for a small convention. This is because we are specialized. Most Furry artists attend ConFurence, and many who cannot, sennd their art to us. Persons interested in buying Furry art know that they will find the best selection at ConFurence every year, and will travel across great distances to see and purchase the works presented in our show. Past ConFurence Art Shows have had over 70 artists represented, and sales have topped $7000.00. ConFurence only takes 5% of sales for opperating costs.
If you would like to have your art in our show, contact us and reserve space now… but don’t worry. Unlike many other convention art shows, we have a “never full” policy. We do not block space for art that may not show up, and we will always find room for anyone who wishes to participate. All members of ConFurence, including supporting members, are entitled to a 4’x4′ space in the art show. Additional 4’x4′ blocks are availible for $5.00, each.
Special Interest Groups: Panels are standard fare at most conventions. These are usually of a lecture format, with panel members seated at a table on a stage, talking to the audiance. There is little chance for interaction between the panelists and the members of the audiance. The panelists seldom know what the members of the audiance want to hear, and there is little time to find out during the “question and answer” period at the end of the lecture.
At ConFurence, we don’t have panels. The SIG room is set up for a round-table style discussion. The guests, or the “motivator” (like a moderator, but less formal) sit whereever they want at the table, as do the interested attendies. Two way conversation is encouraged, so everyone attending the SIG can have the oppertunity to find out what they want to know, or say what they want to.
Popular SIGs in the past have included demonstrations and discussions of art technique; writing; costume construction and presentation; production of television shows, from concept to air; and round-robin talks about personal charatcers.
The Den of Dealers: Once again, ConFurence specializes, concentrating materials for our particular shared interest.. Publishers of Furry comics and magazines, established artists and galleries, books and comic sellers, and merchants of collectables are invited to participate in our dealer room. Furries can easily find merchandise that would take hours of searching in an average SF/F or Comic convention dealers room. Tables are only $50.00 for a 3’x6′ table space, with 2, 3 day memberships included. (a 3’x3′ table space is only $30.00, and includes 1 membership)
Artists Alley: This is the place reserved for artists to demonstrate their talents and sell their wares. It is the central point of ConFurence, the hub of activity. Table spaces are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis every day, and are free. Furry artists are the most accesible group of Furries; their images were the beacon which attracted so many of us in the first place. The Artist’s Alley will always be the active focus of ConFurence.
Special Guests: We have always said that every member of ConFurence is a special guest, however, each year we roll out the red carpet for a few people who we all respect for their accomplishments. Ours is a small, intimate group, more like a family then a typical convention. At ConFurence, you can actually meet the guests, and chat with them, one on one.
Past ConFurences have welcomed Reed Waller and Kate Worley, co-creators of “Omaha, the Cat Dancer”, one of the most controversial and best loved alternative comics ever produced; Steve Gallaci, who brought us Albedo, the serious anthropomorphic SF graphic novel, starring Erma Felna, one of Furry’s best loved characters. From Toronto, Canada, Taral Wayne, the acomplished Hugo nominated fantasy illustrator; Vicky Wyman, who’s Xanadu graphic novel shines as the best of Furry fantasy; Monica Livingston, the multi-talented artist who’s characters have graced the pages of many Furry magazines as well as stunning custom-made T-shirts. The excentric artist/publisher Jim Groat, creator of Red Shetland and Equine the Uncivilized, for those who prefur their Furry fantasy light; and Martin Wagner, writer/artist of the beautifully rendered and graphic drama “Hepcats”
This year, ConFurence welcomes the acomplished illustrator and game designer, Larry Dixon, and Mercedes Lackey, the author of many best-selling fantasy novels ( including The Last Herold Mage trilogy), who has recently completed colaborative works with the likes of Andre Norton and Anne McCaffery; and Ken Fletcher, who more then anyone else could be called the co-father of Furry fandom. He was co-editor of the ground-breaking Ameture Press Association publication “Vootie”, and founder of FALF, the Funny Animal Liberation Front, which promoted the concept that comics could be more then just superheros. Come to ConFurence, and meet the people who make it happen!