"OMG Aliens!" in 2009
|Venue||David L. Lawrence
Westin Convention Center Hotel
|Attendance||3,776 in 2009|
Anthrocon (abbreviated AC) is the world's largest furry convention, taking place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania each June or July. Its focus is on furries: fictional anthropomorphized animal characters in art and literature. The convention was first held in 1997 in New York State, and draws over 3,000 attendees annually.
Founded in 1997 as Albany Anthrocon (AAC) in New York State, with a membership of about 500, the convention moved to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania in 1999 and to a larger hotel, the Adams Mark, on the outskirts of Philadelphia in 2001 as its attendance continued to grow. Membership in 2003 was announced as 1,949. In 2004 it was 2,406, making it by far the largest furry convention at that time.
Due to the unforeseen sale of the Adams Mark Hotel in November 2004, Anthrocon chose the Wyndham Franklin Plaza in Philadelphia as the site for its 2005 convention. Attendance that year dropped slightly to 2,373, due in part to higher parking fees, a different and unfamiliar hotel (the Wyndham Franklin Plaza in downtown Philadelphia), and possibly due to Hurricane Dennis's effect on the southern United States which closed many airports and prevented people from traveling. In June 2005, a contract with the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Pittsburgh was signed, and Anthrocon was scheduled to be held at the adjoining David L. Lawrence Convention Center between June 15-18, 2006. Despite concerns that the move to Pittsburgh and temporary date shift would decrease attendance, it actually rose to 2,489, which was enough to ensure the future of the convention for July 5-8, 2007.
The chairman of the convention since 1999, Dr. Samuel Conway (nicknamed "Kagemushi" or "Uncle Kage" among attendees), oversees the operations of the Anthrocon with the help of a small staff and a number of volunteers who donate their time and energy throughout the weekend to assist the multitude of small tasks which arise. Since 1997, Anthrocon has donated more than $86,000 to animal-related charities.
As of 2007 Anthrocon is featured in the Guinness World Records (2008 Edition) as the "largest furry fan club" in the world. At closing ceremonies of the 2007 convention it was announced that another claim has been made for the record of "most mascots in a parade". The Guinness Worlds Record organization was to be present in 2008 to verify the new record.
In 2008, Anthrocon became the first furry convention to have an attendance exceeding 3,000 members, the official count reaching 3,390. In 2009, attendance rose 11% to 3,776, and the fursuit parade count jumped to 640—a 41% increase. Anthrocon brings approximately $3 million to the Pittsburgh economy, and is among the city's top ten largest conventions.
There are areas open most of the day to accommodate sales by Dealers and Artists as well as an area to congregate and socialize (see "The Zoo" below).
The programming tracks involve discussions and work groups focused on the application of furry in Art, Comedy and Improv, Computer Gaming, Costuming (Fursuits), Music, Puppetry, Role-Playing (both gaming and real-life), and Writing.
The scheduled events that take place are the Charity Auction, the Masquerade, the Fursuit Parade, nightly dances, Art Show Auctions, and special presentations by Uncle Kage and "2 the Ranting Gryphon".
|1997||Albany, NY||300 est||$2,200||Therapy Dogs/K9 Friends|
|1998||Albany, NY||600 est||$3,092||Whiskers|
|1999||Valley Forge, NY||842||$3,600||Great Valley Nature Center|
|2000||Valley Forge, NY||1,128||$6,534||The National Greyhound Adoption Program|
|2001||Philadelphia, PA||1,457||$7,237||Reins of Life|
|2002||Philadelphia, PA||1,648||$13,280||Canine Partners for Life|
|2003||Philadelphia, PA||1,949||$8,348||Support Our Shelters|
|2004||Philadelphia, PA||2,404||$7,200||Forgotten Felines & Fidos (FFF)|
|2005||Philadelphia, PA||2,370||$6,470||Greater Philadelphia Search & Rescue|
|2006||Pittsburgh, PA||2,489||$8,407||Western Pennsylvania National Wild Animal|
|2007||Pittsburgh, PA||2,849||$7,608||Animal Friends|
|2008||Pittsburgh, PA||3,390||$13,154||Pittsburgh Parrot Rescue|
|2009||Pittsburgh, PA||3,776||$8,993||Animal Rescue League Wildlife Rehabilitation|
|Year||Theme||Guests of Honor|
|1997||An East Coast Furry Convention||artist Daphne Lage
artist Watts Martin
|1998||Here There Be Dragons||artist Jim Groat
artist Jeffery A. Carver
|1999||Join the Furry Revolution||artist Vicky Wyman
artist S. Andrew Swann
|2000||Furries of Myth and Legend||artist Sara "Caribou" Palmer
author Paul Kidd
|2001||Furries in Flight||comic-book artist Dan DeCarlo (creator of Josie
and the Pussycats)
syndicated cartoonist Bill Holbrook
Norman (of The Sholan Series)
artist Heather Bruton
|2003||Creatures of the Night||artist Guy Gilchrist
artist Mark E. Rogers
|2004||Summer Games||artist Stan Sakai
(creator of Usagi
artist Michael Gagne
(co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja
Timothy Albee (director "Kaze, Ghost Warrior")
|2006||Making History||artist Scott Shaw!
(creator of a number of comic book and cartoon characters)
Diane Duane (author of several series including So You Want to Be a Wizard
|2007||Looking to the Future||voice actor Rob
writer Mark Evanier
artist Carolyn Kelly
|2008||It's a Jungle Out There||animator and Disney Legend Floyd Norman|
|2009||OMG Aliens||character developer and artist Joe Harris
character artist and story designer Ben Balistreri
illustrator and television producer Bob Boyle
|2010||Modern Stone-Age Furries|
|2011||The Anthropomorphic Institute of Magic|
|2012||A Midsummer Night’s Dream|
The Zoo is a customary area of the Anthrocon convention space in which attendees may lounge freely, eat and drink, rest, draw, chat, and generally "decompress" from the bustle and crowding of the rest of the convention events going on around them.
The Zoo has existed as such in Anthrocon programming since 2000, except in 2005 as there were no rooms available to dedicate for the space, and because the hotel lobby bar was available for essentially the same purpose. There were also an open hotel restaurant and adjacent sitting areas throughout the lobby, ballroom, and mezzanine floor balconies which served as de facto Zoo space during the 2005 convention.
As a large part of the 'experience' of Anthrocon is interpersonal socialization, the more customary convention programming is ultimately unable to suffice by itself. This, combined with the effects of jet lag (due to attendees traveling from across the country and even as far away as Japan), and sleep deprivation due to attempting to attend as many events as possible and meet as many people as possible within the general 4-day time frame of the convention, gives rise to a definite need to have space more or less devoted to small-group socialization, and relaxation without the need to return to a hotel room (an increasingly arduous and lengthy endeavor as the ratio of attendance to convention space goes up).