Furry Fandom - Games were held in the main hall with furries competing in silly games.
Games were held in the main hall with furries competing in silly games.
Furry Fandom - A furry readjusts her head outside the games competition.
A furry readjusts her head outside the games competition.
Furry Fandom - Furries gathered at the Crown Plaza in Asheville, North Carolina for the second annual Blue Ridge...
Furries gathered at the Crown Plaza in Asheville, North Carolina for the second annual Blue Ridge Furfare, March 10-13.
Furry Fandom - During the lip sync competition, furries dance and compete while audience members select the winner.
During the lip sync competition, furries dance and compete while audience members select the winner.
Furry Fandom - The furry fandom is open to all ages including kids. A group of younger furries parades through...
The furry fandom is open to all ages including kids. A group of younger furries parades through the lobby of the hotel.
Furry Fandom - Lyra Feeney heads to her hotel room to relax out of costume after the parade.
Lyra Feeney heads to her hotel room to relax out of costume after the parade.
Furry Fandom - Feeney steps into the costume she had created based on her fursona or animal personality. Furries...
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.
Furry Fandom - Those who dress in fursuits wear moisture-wicking material under the costume to prevent sweating.
Those who dress in fursuits wear moisture-wicking material under the costume to prevent sweating.
Furry Fandom - Fursuits are created so wearers can walk and move about easily. While in costume, some furries...
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.
Furry Fandom - Furries meet in the lobby of the hotel. Some furries don't speak while in their fursuits but...
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.
Furry Fandom - The lobby of the Crown Plaza hotel in Asheville, NC included furries with tails or elaborate...
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.
Furry Fandom - Participants can spend several thousand dollars to have a fursuit made. Tony Mara said a partial...
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.
Furry Fandom - Artwork is a big part of furry fandom with artists selling work onsite and sharing online.
Artwork is a big part of furry fandom with artists selling work onsite and sharing online.
Furry Fandom - Vendors sold artwork and furry merchandise at the "Dealer's Den" during the...
Vendors sold artwork and furry merchandise at the "Dealer's Den" during the convention.
Furry Fandom - Buttons available for sale at the furry convention
Buttons available for sale at the furry convention
Furry Fandom - The furry convention includes seminars over three days including this one titled, "The...
The furry convention includes seminars over three days including this one titled, "The Flannel Panel."
Furry Fandom - Relaxing outside the convention
Relaxing outside the convention
Furry Fandom - A room at the convention was dedicated to video and board games for furries to compete and relax.
A room at the convention was dedicated to video and board games for furries to compete and relax.
Furry Fandom - Attendees check in to the hotel with fursuits in tow.
Attendees check in to the hotel with fursuits in tow.
Furry Fandom -
Furry Fandom - "Uncle Kage" creates what he describes as "positively awful" drawings during...
"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.
Furry Fandom -
Furry Fandom - More competitors during the lip sync competition
More competitors during the lip sync competition
Furry Fandom - Attendees were able to have their photos taken for free.
Attendees were able to have their photos taken for free.
Furry Fandom - The hallways inside the Crown Plaza were busy with animals and "regular" hotel guests.
The hallways inside the Crown Plaza were busy with animals and "regular" hotel guests.
Furry Fandom - Two furries relax headless in the hotel bar.
Two furries relax headless in the hotel bar.

Furry Fandom

Profile photo of Katie Linsky Shaw
Katie Linsky Shaw
Photojournalist based in Asheville, North Carolina
By Katie Linsky Shaw

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.”

Public Story
Furry Fandom
Copyright Katie Linsky Shaw 2024
Updated Mar 2022
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