Mini-post - Furry Conventions 2018 By the Numbers

December 2, 2018: a date written into history for fans of furry convention attendance statistics and round numbers. After finally surpassing Anthrocon as the world’s biggest furry convention last year, Midwest Furfest’s next goal was obvious: become the first con to reach 10,000 attendees. Did they manage it? To find out, have a graph that you’ve probably already seen on Twitter:

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I’ve discussed some of the longer-term trends before, so a few points to pick out from this year:

  • Every big con, except for Further Confusion, has seen a growth in attendance this year.
  • Related to this, Texas Furry Fiesta has snuck past Further Confusion into fifth spot overall.
  • We can now see the biggest cons dividing into three clusters: MFF and AC are the ‘big’ cons, BLFC and FWA (the latter seeing strong growth this year) make up a ‘middle’ tier at the 5,000+ mark, while the other four occupy a narrowish range between 2,500 and 4,000.
  • Honourable mentions go to Anthro New England, who ticked past the 2,000 threshold this year, and DenFur, putting up 2,086 in their first edition.
Growing Up

Absolute attendance numbers are one thing, but growth rates can sometimes be more illuminating. I’ve separated out the biggest four conventions to look at their year-on-year growth rate since 2008. The plot below gives the proportional increase in attendees compared with the previous year (so an increase from 100 to 200, or 1,000 to 2,000, would both represent a 100% increase).

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Perhaps the most dramatic figure here is BLFC’s growth rate ‘plummeting’ to a little under 6%. However, this followed some truly extraordinary growth in their first few years, so shouldn’t come as much of a surprise (especially given space limitations). FWA, meanwhile, after years of yo-yoing growth, managed to grow by over 20% two years in a row. Those expecting Anthrocon to bounce back from losing its crown last year will have been pleased to see a mild recovery from its 3% growth in 2017, picking up by 11% this year. MFF, however, easily surpassed this yet again, with a growth of 22% putting them over the 10,000 mark.

It will be interesting to see how these four cons shape out in particular over the coming years, not least due to their timing within the calendar. AC and MFF enjoy considerable distance, occuring around 5 months apart each year. BLFC and FWA, on the other hand, traditionally occupy a similar slot in the calendar.

In any case, it’s another year of strong growth across the board for furry convention attendance. Moreover, arbitrary threshold or not, it’s pleasing to see the fandom’s biggest con break into five figures. Here’s to a 2019 of more furries, more fun, and more excuses to make graphs.

Written on December 2, 2018