A talk with Fritzy Wolf – Contribution through fun: Furvana ‘takes the internet’ in lieu of cancelled 2020 convention

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As more physical furcons cancel due to the pandemic, the trend of online events, as well as their contributions to society rises. Furvana, a furcon based in the US state of Washington (not to be confused with the US capital city Washington D.C.), is one of the latest events to do so.

Timetable of the Furvana Takes the Internet livestream, held on YouTube and Twitch.

On Sept. 12 from 5pm to 1am PDT (8am – 4pm SGT), their eight-hour livestream event Furvana Takes The Internet held various activities for attendees, from livestreams to panels and talk shows.

A bedtime story panel at the online event.

The event ended with the furcon announcing a total donation of US$10,030.32 for Ocean Shores Food Bank.

And on top of that, Furvana’s co-chair Fritzy Wolf spice-tasted a 6 million Scoville hot sauce in celebration of the donation.

Fritzy Wolf (left) ingesting the hot sauce while his other staff watches on.

With the “COVID-19 and Furries” train of thought, we’ve sat down with Fritzy and talked with him about the pandemic’s impact on the fandom, as well as the present and future of online furry events.

“How does it feel to raise this much for charity through furry fun?”

It’s indescribable.  Our internal goal was to raise $1,000, and I was really skeptical that we’d even be able to make it that far.  We had never run a streaming event like this before, and I was expecting to have ~20-30 viewers and hopefully raise a few hundred dollars, which still would have been a great help!

When we passed the $1,000 dollar mark by the end of the 2nd hour I couldn’t believe it!  Only a couple hours later, we had raised over $8,000!!!  Honestly I was shaking, even crying, my heart felt like a flock of birds.  By the end of the stream we had closed the gap to $10,000 and I just felt such a deep, incredible, magnificent swelling of pride in the generosity and talent of the furry community.

I feel insanely lucky and proud of the people around me, and there’s no better feeling than that!  Of course shortly thereafter, I was in a deep, incredible, magnificent pain because in effort to inspire our donators to make it to that $10k mark, I elected to down a shot of Mad Dog 357 hot sauce, which is made with a 6 million Scoville pepper extract.  Sooo… that happened!

“Did COVID-19 negatively impact your convention in any way?”

Originally, we had an in-person furry convention scheduled to take place the same weekend, from September 11th to 13th.  However like so many others this year, it was cancelled in order to keep our attendees safe from COVID-19. 

However I consider us lucky, we’re still a relatively small con, and so we have relatively small expenses.  The managers at the Ocean Shores Convention Center and Shilo Inn were very understanding and willing to work with us so that our event could be re-scheduled for the next year with minimal impact to our finances.

By the time it became apparent that the virus was not going away anytime soon, we had not made any particularly large purchases or investments, so the financial impact to our event was not overly burdensome. My heart truly goes out to the other furry conventions who had to cancel more last-minute, and the ones who are struggling to continue after the financial blows from COVID-19.

“As vice-chair of a physical convention, did holding online events pose any new challenges to you?”

I’m a co-chair actually, not a vice-chair.  Metal Fox and I share equal ownership and responsibility of the convention, and work together well to compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

However yes, holding the online event posed lots of new challenges!  We had never run anything like this before, and so we had to go outside of our normal staff body for help. We were fortunate to find another local furry who runs a professional livestreaming business, and we were able to work with him to solve many of the technical challenges that were foreign to us.

The other big challenge was organizing everyone remotely to sort out their content and local technical issues.  We had panelists in all different parts of the Pacific Northwest, as well as 2 that were broadcasting to us from Chicago.  Orchestrating all of that in an entirely remote capacity proved to be more difficult than we expected.

“From your perspective, how much has the pandemic impacted your furry community?”

Greatly, very greatly.  On one paw, we have a well established presence on the internet and so we already had the infrastructure to stay social and support our friends that way, but furries are a group that really thrive on physical presence and intimacy.

You’d be hard pressed to find a furry who won’t openly accept a hug as a greeting, and simply being around one another at parties and especially conventions, it really brings our fandom to life. Since we can’t have that right now, it’s been difficult. Furries are stressed; many are feeling alone, depressed, especially those of us who have lost our jobs or family members to this virus. 

But despite all that, we’ve still done a remarkable job keeping the fandom love going. The surge in online events has really done a lot to help people feel part of the community.

“Do you think online events like these will continue to be effective at helping furries move through this pandemic? Why or why not?”

Absolutely!  I love being a part of this super weird fandom so much, and seeing these online events happening so frequently now is really helpful in making me feel connected to other furries.

Seeing an old friend joking on camera, seeing a fursuiter dancing in the background behind a DJ I love, or seeing a furry puppet reading a story book, those are all things that remind me that there’s other super weird people out there just like me, and some day we’re going to be together again!

“In your opinion, will online events become more relevant to furries post-pandemic?”

Once the pandemic is safely over I think we’ll see a lot of the online events stop running or return to in-person events, but some of them will definitely stick around.

Hosting online events has given a lot of people who otherwise would not attend a furry convention the opportunity to participate, and I don’t think that audience is going away anytime soon.  It’s also given people in remote locations access to events across the country or even across the world! 

Heck, the fact that there’s a Singapore-based furry news channel talking to me from halfway around the globe is a true testament to how connected the furry fandom is right now, and how indomitable we are even in spite of all the turmoil in the world today.

Furvana Takes The Internet’s Twitch broadcast archives can be viewed here.

Furvana’s 2021 edition, themed “Starry Night”, is slated to be held from Sept. 10 – 12 at the Ocean Shores Convention Center in Ocean Shores, Washington.

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