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Furries gathered at the Crown Plaza in Asheville, North Carolina for the second annual Blue Ridge Furfare, March 10-13.

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The lobby of the Crown Plaza hotel in Asheville, NC included furries with tails or elaborate animal costumes alongside regular guests like a wedding party.

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A furry readjusts her head outside the games competition.

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Games were held in the main hall with furries competing in silly games.

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During the lip sync competition, furries dance and compete while audience members select the winner.

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The furry fandom is open to all ages including kids. A group of younger furries parades through the lobby of the hotel.

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Lyra Feeney heads to her hotel room to relax out of costume after the parade.

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Feeney steps into the costume she had created based on her fursona or animal personality. Furries create original characters as their fursona which is part of the furry fandom.

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Those who dress in fursuits wear moisture-wicking material under the costume to prevent sweating.

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Fursuits are created so wearers can walk and move about easily. While in costume, some furries take on their animal personality. This process helps those who are often too shy in everyday clothing to relax and socialize, relieving anxiety.

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Participants can spend several thousand dollars to have a fursuit made. Tony Mara said a partial suit runs for around $2,000 while a full suit from a well-known creator can run $5,000-$10,000. On average, fursuits cost $2,000-$4,000. Because of the high costs, only about 25 percent of those in the fandom own a fursuit.

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Artwork is a big part of furry fandom with artists selling work onsite and sharing online.

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Vendors sold artwork and furry merchandise at the "Dealer's Den" during the convention.

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Buttons available for sale at the furry convention

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The furry convention includes seminars over three days including this one titled, "The Flannel Panel."

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Relaxing outside the convention

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A room at the convention was dedicated to video and board games for furries to compete and relax.

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Attendees check in to the hotel with fursuits in tow.

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Furries meet in the lobby of the hotel. Some furries don't speak while in their fursuits but use other ways to communicate like waving.

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"Uncle Kage" creates what he describes as "positively awful" drawings during the convention. Uncle Kage is a well-known and popular member of the furry fandom and serves as chairman of the Anthrocon which is held each summer in Pittsburgh, Penn.

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More competitors during the lip sync competition

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Attendees were able to have their photos taken for free.

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The hallways inside the Crown Plaza were busy with animals and "regular" hotel guests.

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Two furries relax headless in the hotel bar.

Public Story
Furry Fandom
Copyright Katie Linsky Shaw 2022
Updated Mar 2022
They’re a playful, colorful, often misunderstood community of artists, gamers, role players and creatives - sometimes clad in adorable, giant animal costumes - who share a love of anthropomorphized animal characters. And almost a 1,000 of these "furries" gathered at the Crown Plaza in Asheville, NC, recently for the second annual BlueRidge FurFare. Welcome to the world of furry fandom!

I’ve had my eye on this community since first spotting them in Asheville a few years ago. It’s a strange sight to see - oversized, animal characters hanging out on a downtown sidewalk waving oversized paws to surprised tourists. I was intrigued and, frankly, a little scared, but my curiosity won over.

So what is a furry? Simply put, a furry is someone with an interest in animals with human characteristics like walking and talking. Think Simba in The Lion King, Remy the rat in Ratatouille, or Donkey from Shrek. Beyond that, there’s a wide spectrum of involvement within the furry world from talented artists who create the charming illustrations of furry characters to those who invest in elaborate fur-suits based on their Fursona or animal personality.

They gather online and meet in-person at conferences. It’s like Comic-Con or a college football fan club. Similar to those other groups, furries share a common interest that’s discussed and shared online and celebrated at conventions. But thanks to the media (like a certain CSI episode that fictionalized "activities" at a furry convention), the furry fandom has faced a slew of misunderstandings. Mention the word furry to anyone outside the fandom and I guarantee you’ll get raised eyebrows and at least one mention of “that weird, sex group.” (For the record, they’re not.) What I found was a group of creative, enthusiastic, non-judgmental souls with a love of art and a shared community.

Seth Schnuit, who’s been a member of the furry community for about five years, said he was first hesitant about the group because of the negative way it was falsely portrayed. Then he learned the furry fandom is actually a “loving and generous community” of artists.

“Furry is a community of people who come together to celebrate the weird and extraordinary, support and care for each other, and just generally try to make the world a little bit of a brighter and better place,” said Schnuit.

Tony Mara first discovered there were others interested in the anthropomorphizing of animals, based a lot in Disney films, around 1997. That led him to online forums and art groups which allowed people to build websites, art portfolios and stories.

“The fandom is every-changing and evolving,” said Mara, “and it offers a creative outlet for a lot of traditional artists, authors, even photographers like myself…it’s a sense of community, sharing, mutual understanding, and respect.”

Katie Linsky Shaw, Photographer

Freelance photographer and photojournalist based in Asheville, North Carolina
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