Anthrocon

Anthrocon
Photo: anthrocon.org
Anthrocon is the world’s largest furry convention. It takes place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania every year in June or July. In 2016, it drew over 7,300 attendees. The number might seem a relatively small for a pop culture convention, but it is actually quite impressive for a furry convention.

The furry fandom is a subculture interested in fictional anthropomorphic animal characters in literature, film, television, comics, art, and other aspects of popular culture. Although the concept of endowing animal characters with human characteristics and personalities isn’t exactly a novelty, the furry fandom as we know it now began to emerge in the early 1980s. The first independent furry convention (a gathering of furry fans) was held in the United States in 1989.

Most of the early furry conventions that were established in the late 1980s and the early 1990s has since been discontinued. Currently the largest furry convention in the world is Anthrocon. It was first held as the Albany AnthroCon (AAC) from July 3–6, 1997. The Albany Anthrocon was an offshoot of Halloween parties regularly held by the New York furry fandom. The first convention attracted over 300 attendees.

In 1999, the event was relocated to Pennsylvania by new organizers who renamed it simply “Anthrocon”. Anthrocon’s attendance has been growing steadily ever since (except for 2005 when it dropped slightly due to a different venue and some other factors). As of 2016, the conventions draws over 7,000 attendees. Fursuiters (attendees wearing animal based costumes) typically constitute 15% to 20% of the total number of attendees.

The program of Anthrocon is similar to that of other furry conventions. It typically includes opening and closing ceremonies, Artists’ Alley, Dealer’s Den, art shows and auctions, a charity auction, Masquerade, a fursuit parade, a fursuit dance competition, stage performances (music, comedy, etc.), panel discussions, workshops, demonstrations, card and role-playing games, video gaming tournaments, dances, and a plethora of other events and activities.

One of the main highlights of Anthrocon is a charity auction. Such auctions are held at most furry conventions to collect money for a designated charity. The furry community actively supports animal welfare organizations and all proceeds from auctions are directed to such organizations. The first Anthrocon donated about $2,000 dollars to Therapy Dogs. In 2016, proceeds amounted to more than $30,000. Since 1997, the convention’s charity auction has donated over $240,000 to local charities.

Each Anthrocon features guests of honor. They include artists, authors, comic book artists and writers, voice actors, cartoonists, illustrators, character designers, animators, and other people who have made a significant contribution to the development of the furry fandom. Another tradition is choosing a new theme for each edition of Anthrocon.

Anthrocon

Photo: Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA



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