Midwest Furfest 2016
Midwest Furfest 2016 was a thing! Figured I’d inaugurate this blog with a con report. (Spoiler warning: almost certainly not very interesting to anyone other than my future, nostalgic, self!)
Fun fact: I didn’t decide to attend MFF this year until most of the way through November. The decision was based entirely on the possibility of winning Matrices’ auction for the fursuit that would become Tealeaf. I’ll probably write more about that escapade in a separate post, but the upshot was me suddenly finding myself going to the world’s second-biggest furcon, to pick up my first fursuit, with very little notice. Life is nothing if not an adventure, at least!
The last-minute nature of the trip meant that we (my partner-cum-handler and I) made the somewhat questionable decision to make the trip from nearish Toronto to Chicago through a combination of buses and trains. Entertaining, albeit tiring! We arrived in Chicago in the early hours of Thursday, and luckily were able to check into our hotel room a little early to catch up on some much-needed sleep. On arrival I was presented with an enormous box covered in various Matrices stickers; it took a lot of effort to resist tearing the thing open before catching up on sleep!
I woke up after only a few hours of napping, with a feeling of excitement only comparable to that of Christmas morning as a kid. After some careful unwrapping I tried him on for the first time - pretty surreal, but I could immediately tell this was going to be fun!
It was still a few hours until registration opened for the con, so we headed into downtown Chicago to do a little bit of a sightseeing and a lot of pizza-eating. The deep dish defeated us, and we practically rolled back to the hotel just in time to be at the front of the queue when the registration system went down. (I swear it wasn’t my fault.) Luckily MFF’s Guardians of the Registration Queue were super-fun to chat to (naturally I can’t remember their names), and soon enough we were getting ready for Tealeaf’s first outing!
I was pretty nervous about suiting for the first time, but the headless lounge was awash with friendly types who helped me out with various noobish mistakes. Soon enough I was goofing around the hotel, obsessing over trash cans, and dancing the night away.
Fursuiting for the first time was fun, but exhausting, so I tried to keep Friday daytime relatively light and took in a few panels. Alkali did a great job filling in at the last minute on fursuit handling, while Mangy gave some great posing pointers. I then tried out my first furcon poker tournament, where I contrived to go out on my second hand (my KJ losing out to AJ on the kicker - ouch!). On the plus side, at least I can bring up that experience the next time someone (mistakenly) presumes being a statistician means I must be good at poker! We finished a day of panelling with the infinitely patient Anarchity presenting some excellent artistic tips. By this point I was desperate to get suited up again, and spent the rest of the night continuing my campaign to persuade everyone that raccoons are adorable and not very good at dancing.
Saturday saw MFF’s first ever fursuit menagerie, and from what I’d heard about the more traditional parade, I was pretty glad not to face a more severe test of my suiting stamina. The menagerie was great fun, with a variety of specific group photos pre-arranged along with more general mingling. The ‘raccoons and ringtails’ photo slot sadly clashed with Canadian furs, but I had to go with the former (sorry Canada, raccoons are always my first priority!).
After desuiting I went along to the (sublime and ridiculous) Furry Variety Show. I really wasn’t sure what to expect (we were mainly there to catch a friend’s delightfully anarchic routine attacking the audience with balls), but ‘variety’ was definitely an understatement. I’m never going to forget Trumpet dubstep.
Saturday night was Tealeaf’s last outing of the con (I didn’t trust myself to get him prepped for travel in time if I took him out on Sunday), and spent much like the previous two evenings. This was also when I finally got a handle on quite how big a con MFF is. Prior to this the largest con I’d been to was Anthrocon back in 2005(!) which had an attendance of ‘only’ 2,370: MFF was very nearly triple that!
Sunday and beyond
Checking Twitter from bed on Sunday morning I saw everyone getting excited about the snow that had hit Chicago. When you live in Canada it’s hard to get excited about the white stuff, but it did at least provide people with some amazing photo opportunities, which was fun to see. Sunday was a bit of a ‘dead day’, but I did at least manage to pick up Tealeaf’s first conbadge courtesy of Ifus, and caught a bit of the glorious carnage that was the fursuit games. By then it was time to say farewell to MFF and catch a small nap before a similarly epic journey back to Canada! (I was very glad customs didn’t mistake Tealeaf for beaver pelts.)
So, that was my first MFF! All-in-all a very weird, and intense, experience, but ludicrously fun. Thanks to everyone who helped make it what it was. The unforeseen aside, I’ll definitely be back next year!