“It’s a sleepy day in the sleepy town of Fur City Bluff…” begins the narrative of ‘The Furry, Furry West’ within the ACFI con-book. The page sets the tone, giving us insight to a dusty town under the watchful eye of the Sheriff and his team, to a place where there is a fair coming up, and the looming threat of the Red-Mask-Gang.
Boots, badges, masks, and moneybags…this was the stage for San Antonio’s first-ever Furry Convention.
As someone living in Texas, I first heard of the San Antonio community back in 2016. I had just gone to a comic-con in Alamo City to meet the Power Rangers and I took my fursuit head with me. I thought this would be a great opportunity to suit for a little while, and get used to wearing my character in a crowded place…Needless to say that there were not as many furries there as I thought, and I quickly became intimidated. Long-story-short, this got me noticed (after the con) by a local who mentioned the furmeets happening within the area, and she asked me to add her on facebook so that she might invite me to said-events so I could attend.
While I was never really in the area to go to any of the meets (as I live over 2 hours away) I did research on them. This lead me to videos, and photos, to chatting with Adam King occasionally, and it really gave me an idea of what a Furry Community really looked like. Never did I think that such a tight-knit community could evolve into something so much greater…but after this weekend, I realized that myself along with 737 other people made history as we celebrated and experienced San Antonio’s new Furry Convention!
- Standing out from all the rest:
—Since there is already a Furry Convention held in Texas, a lot of people were wondering how ACFI stood apart. On the Official Website, their statement said: “We are working to bring more of the fandom to the state of Texas. We believe that by holding Furry Invasion on the dates we do, we will be offering more options to those that wish to participate in furry conventions rather than competing for attendees with limited time and resources.”
There were other ways in which ACFI tried to distinguish itself as well. First was with a narrative: not just the one written in the con-book…this was a “live narrative” that followed the story from the con-book and would pop up during events around the convention. It followed the takeover of the town by the Red-Mask-Gang and the efforts to stop them. It ended with a ransom being collected to free one of the staff at the closing ceremonies, and then ended with a cliff-hanger when we learned that someone had taken the safe-box. This narrative would then pick up at ACFI 2018.
Also, to set itself apart…the con-book was also made to be something like a yearbook. Attendees could have people sign their books or use the spaces to fill in their favorite memories. All of which I thought was an amazing and unique idea that would appeal to a large amount of those going.
(Top left):Avisiris Minnowgulper/ (Top Center):Captain/ (Top Right): Rune/ (Bottom Center): Escap’e
- Benefits of a brand-new convention:
—There are several benefits to participating in a newer convention. Some reasons might be more selfish than others but it’s still fun to think about. I think the more ‘selfish’ reason is that you get noticed a lot more and its much easier to be social in a smaller crowd. One thing I noticed about TFF was that there was already established ‘groups’ of friends…and there was so much going on, it was often hard to get pictures, harder to stop and socialize, and it was much harder to stand out. But, with a smaller convention…you get noticed more often which means more pictures, more hugs, more people you actually get to talk to and get to know.
But, the main reason that I like the idea of a new and smaller convention is because you get to see how it will change! You get to see the convention grow and evolve into something bigger, something better, something greater than you ever imagined…and you do so knowing what the first-ever convention looked like. You are written in as part of that convention’s history, and it’s something really neat to think about. I think it makes those memories in particular stand out all-the more.
Fursuit Parade- Group Photo 2017
- Breaking records:
—ACFI ended up placing 2nd place for first-year attendance. There were 737 furries that attended this convention with 100 fursuiters. We raised over $1000 for charities, and this all stemmed from only 200 people originally being invited to the con. So, while we may not have placed first, there were still records broken which ACFI should be proud of!
- Helping Charity:
—This year, ACFI chose a local charity called: Pets Alive!
Their mission is that they are a life-saving organization that only rescues cats/dogs that have been selected for euthanasia. They are working hard to make San Antonio a no-kill community which is something I think we can all get behind! This organization provides a neonatal kitten nursery, parvo-ward, ringworm ward, medical clinic, foster and adoption programs, and a transport program- as well as other amazing things!
ACFI was able to raise over $1000 for charity and if YOU would like to help this organization, links will be provided down below.
Rune giving high-fives
- Bringing smiles to people’s face:
—I have always said that while Furries have become more normalized than they were before, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the fandom. That is why I think that conventions are really important. It is a chance for us to mingle with the general public…to show them what we are about, and to really make a positive impression on the surrounding community. I loved walking off the elevators and the hotel staff asking for pictures. I also loved all the kids running around, asking for hugs and high-fives. I always love seeing the smiles that fursuits put on everyone’s faces. It shows me that we are setting the right example and really putting the fandom in the right light. Furries, to me, means fun and happiness…that is why I love dressing up in a fursuit for conventions such as this one.
- Scheduling Errors:
—Since it was a new con, one has to expect that things like scheduling might get a little out of hand. I guess that there was an issue with the schedule being printed in the book versus what was on the website. The schedule of panels that was posted on the website was correct, but, the schedule posted within the con-book were incorrect. This lead to a lot of people missing their events as well as some events having been cancelled that people were trying to attend ( as well as events overlapping and such). It was not so much ‘bad’ as it was inconvenient…and luckily, we still managed to make most of what we had planned to do.
- Very Small and Understaffed:
—New Conventions are very small, and so one can not predict what may or may-not be there. At this con, there were a few vendors, but nothing on the scale of TFF or Anthrocon. Same as with the panels. They were small and kept simple. There are not so many rooms to utilize at the El Tropicano so panels were few and far in-between, but what they did have to offer was still fun and would still appeal to a majority of their attendees.
However, the bigger problem was the fact that ACFI was obviously understaffed. I often saw people running around like crazy, there was mixed-info on what was happening at any given time, and sometimes the staff did not know what was happening at all. The Fursuit Parade was one of the biggest examples where the time got pushed back twice, and staff did not know what to do with us in the meantime. People in suit were getting hot and had no idea what was happening…and no one really had any answers for us. There was a booth where they were asking people to volunteer for teardown, and my wife and I (as well as my group) put their names down because they really had no one and we did not want to think that they would be there all night working if they did not get a little more help.
Short staff and poor communication between the staff was also apparent in the closing ceremonies where, they asked for shaving cream pies and a tarp…only to then get the pies but no tarp because: “No one asked for it”. Small mistakes, but things that can definitely be improved upon for next year.
(Left): Captain/ (Center): Escap’e/ (Right): Rune
—One thing I find that was also poorly coordinated was the group photo for the fursuit parade, and then seating for the dance competition. When they smooshed us all together for the group photo, my buddy and I already knew we would not be seen. There was no lift for the photographer so there was no way that everyone was getting in. The room was much too small. Sure enough, when the group photo was released…people were sad because they were nowhere to be found.
The same could be said (in a sense) for the dance competition. My wife was standing behind my chair and though she got to enjoy the show, I saw more of the judges than I did the dancers until finally enough seats opened so that I could move in closer. The room was just too small for all those chairs…and it made it very difficult for short people like me to see. This same scenario could apply to the opening and closing ceremonies. I thought the narratives were hilarious but I could not see them and could barely hear them. I could barely see people getting a pie in the face at the closing ceremonies even though I was near the front.
Another small complaint happened before the convention…
I was told via the team that there was nothing I needed for the convention except an ID card. I asked them whether I needed a confirmation e-mail (and whether I would get one) and they said ‘no’. But, the first day that I arrive, I am asked about a confirmation e-mail and whether or not I had one. Then I have to go through a registration process AGAIN just to get my badge and bag. It seemed like this took a lot of unnecessary time and, I feel like this is something they should fix for the next convention.
Also, I contacted the department about the use of “props” – I contacted the team via their website and through the facebook page which said they typically reply within an hour. I even messaged Adam King himself since I had friended him on facebook. I got no reply from any of the 3 outlets. The question about registration I had received in a day…but a question about props got no response. So, if they are not going to respond to questions about it, they need to at least include cosplay props and such as a section within their code of conduct since I could not find it anywhere.
—The Headless Lounge needs to be bigger or at least needs more water and more “trees” for the fursuit heads. One is just not enough.
—Seating for the Dance Competition should not include chairs unless they are in the back- suiters should be warned of this ahead of time so they can make whatever adjustments they need.
—People doing the narratives need a microphone, and narratives should maybe just get their own panel or their own little event? Just seemed weird how they were shoved into opening and closing ceremonies, although the ransom thing was hilarious.
—I think next year should focus on getting more staff and working to make better communication between the teams.
—Code of conduct needs to include a section on cosplay props ( as there currently is none)
—ACFI needs to work on getting back to people messaging them through the website with questions (and messaging their facebook page as well). Also, I was given some false information which made my process of getting through registration longer than necessary. This is also something that needs to be fixed for next year if possible.
(From Left to Right): Rune, Escap’e, Captain, @thatstupidsnowfox
- Favorite Memories:
—ACFI really was a blast, even with all the snags. I have a lot of amazing memories from it, so it is really hard to narrow down my favorites. My biggest and most favorite memory would have to be the Drag Show! Slay Queen was amazing and it was so much fun!!! I was grinning like a goober the entire time and I really hope they continue to bring them back for years to come!!!
My second favorite moment was actually making a new friend! We ran into @thatstupidsnowfox and he asked to tag along with us. Then we ended up spending a huge majority of the con together and he made for some amazing company. He is an artist and his work is amazing, so if you wanna check it out, his Twitter will be listed down below!!! But it was really great meeting someone new, and really developing what could be a lasting friendship with someone else in the fandom. We had a lot of laughs and adventures together, so here’s hoping we can meet up at cons in the future!
My third favorite memory was getting to be mummies. There was a panel where people volunteered to be wrapped up as mummies and the other people did the wrapping. In Rune, I got covered in paper towels and toilet paper and then attempted to walk in it. Everyone got a lot of giggles out of it, and we all had a blast walking around like monsters! My wife, Captain, and even my new buddy Nick got to be mummified. We all got a kick out it!
- Least-favorite Memories:
—I can not really say that there was a part of the convention that I “didn’t like” because there was nothing that was really ‘bad’ so much as it was probably just short or poorly planned. So, this one was really hard. But I guess if I had to pick something, I would say my least favorite part of the convention was actually the fursuit parade.
So, usually the parades look better on YouTube…people add music and make them seem magical and fun. But, in reality they are quiet, kind of awkward if no one is cheering, and they tucker out the fursuiters. But this one was silent, awkward, and also extremely short. Not to mention it got delayed a lot…so it just made for a lot of unnecessary confusion. But I think that is something that will be fixed in the future, and it will be better once we get more attendees to go, and there are more suiters participating.
(From Left to Right): Captain, Omnom, Splat, Rune, Escap’e
—It was amazing laying in bed after the convention and looking at my wife as we talked about all the things that made this convention special. This was her first convention with me, it was also her first time being in a fursuit, and that’s when we realized that we were part of something special. By being there at that first convention, we were part of ACFI’s history.
We both agreed that this convention is something special, and, we can only see it getting bigger and better in the future. We already plan to attend for 2018 and we wanna see what new things it brings to the table. We want to support this convention and really help it grow. We wanna keep making memories and look back fondly to this time when it was all new and all starting out.
so, if you’re in the Texas area, ACFI is worth checking out and taking the time to see. The El Tropicano is great hotel, and as the convention grows, we can only imagine what new venues might host us in the future!!! But, give it a go and I think you will have a lot of fun.
But, as always…what do YOU think? Did you go to ACFI? What was your first impression of the convention? What did you love about it and what did you dislike about it? Where do you think they should focus their improvements? As always, let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment-section down below. Also, if you got any pictures of myself (Rune), Escap’e, Captain, or our friend Nick…feel free to link those to me in the comment-section as well.
Thank you all so much for reading. I will see you all in the next blog 😉
Rune & Captain
Alamo City Furry Invasion (website)
San Antonio Furries (facebook group)
Alamo City Furry Invasion (facebook page)
@thatstupidsnowfox Twitter (click to see awesome art!)