by Michæl W. Bard
©2008 Michæl W. Bard

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   Due to Anthro scheduling, this report is, sadly, a bit later than one might have hoped. Alas, that’s the reality of publishing. Or, in other words, this overview/review of Midwest Fur Fest 2008 is a month and a half after said con…

   Initial Contacts: For setting up panels, it was about the same as last year. Maybe a bit less e-mail back and forth, but simple and efficient. The con book story submission was infinitely better—I actually got a confirmation of reception this year. Good job!

   Scheduling: Holy IPU! Who in their right mind schedules anything opposite the fursuit parade? Yeah, I know that nobody gives a crap about serious furry writing; yes, the schedule was fairly full; but there were more than enough empty slots to clear the parade—i.e., do what they do at every other con I’ve ever heard of.
   Perhaps MFF’s concom assumed that anybody into writing couldn’t give a crap about fursuiting (I’m a writer and a fursuiter, guess I’m just insane), and figured that nobody would complain about such a cross-scheduling. Fine—but in that case, why in heaven’s name did they schedule two writing panels (a) against each other, and (b) opposite the fursuit parade?
   Somebody really, really needs to be shot over this. It boggles my mind.
   And it gets even worse!
   Last year they sent out a preliminary schedule to all panelists to check for conflicts or issues. This year they got the schedule out sooner, which is good, but it was the final schedule. Any problems? Too bad, sucker!
   Here is the e-mail inquiry I sent after seeing the parade/panel conflict:

Is there any chance of moving my "Writing Scifi" panel so it is NOT opposite the "Fursuit Parade" as I do fursuit ( and was kinda hoping to be in said parade...
If you can't, that's fine too -- the panel takes priority.

   Here is MFF’s Official Response in its entirety:

Heya Michael
I'm afraid the schedule is already set in stone. Sorry

   Okay. I understand that people are busy. They get flustered. But is it too much trouble to just type something like “I’m sorry, I’ll see what I can do, but my hands are kinda tied right now. I’ll get back to you if I can do anything, but better plan for this. Sorry”—or anything, really, other than what amounts to, “Tough luck, sucker”? Apparently, it was too much trouble.
   If I hadn’t booked the room already and was sharing it with three others, I likely would not have even bothered going.
   Yes: Almost two months later, I am still steamed.

   Hotel: The hotel was okay. The physical arrangement was a bit annoying, particularly the stairs. I would have liked to take the stairs down from the 3rd floor the odd time, but the stairs only went outside, and it was usually just too cold for that. Even in full costume.
   The arrangement of the con area was fine—a bit of a long walk as it was just a single corridor with all the rooms in the middle. Nowhere near as bad as Anthrocon, but a tiny bit of an annoyance.
   And the hotel restaurant…
   What can’t be said about this? In a mind-blowingly good way.
   The food was indescribably good. Without question the best I’ve ever had. And that is counting the fact that I went every time I could. Service was fine, though the waits for food to be cooked and delivered were a tad long. I have no problems waiting for quality. The portions weren’t huge, but they weren’t tiny either. And the price was reasonable—a tad on the high side, but being able to get a five star appetizer/meal/dessert for about $30 can’t be beat!
   I have no clue why there weren’t huge line-ups.
   Let me put it this way: When there were rumours that the hotel might kick the con out for next year (that’s still up in the air, apparently) we were making actual plans to go to the hotel restaurant on our own next year.
   Sadly, the restaurant is moving out to exist on its own. Sigh… Oh, well; we’ll hunt it down!
   As to around the hotel, there were lots of basic restaurants within easy walking distance. Quality was apparently fairly good, from what I’ve heard.

   Con Organization: I have no complaints here. Picking up pre-reg information was quick and easy. Signs were easily visible, and directions and instructions were easy to follow. Times and schedules were clearly posted. After every panel a staff member queried me for problems.

   The fursuit parade (yeah, I pawned the panel off on a friend): People were supposed to meet and be ready at 1:30. At about 1:45 they dragged us from the nice cool outside (the icy wind had died, thank the IPU) into a fairly full, fairly warm room, to organize. Or, rather to wait. The only water was cups—so de-head or die. And wait. And wait. Wait close to half an hour. In the hotter, and more and more uncomfortable, room, rather than the nice cool comfortable outside. I just don’t understand.
   The route was fine. The picture at the end was a bit disorganized, but what can you do with a mob of that size?

   Conclusions: The actual con managed to redeem itself. With the scheduling idiocy, I was ready to not go in 2008, and to never go again. They won me back, and I will probably be going next year. About my only real concern is that it’s starting to get a bit too big for my maximal enjoyment—though, thankfully, it doesn’t yet have miles of empty hallways like Anthrocon does.
   Thanks guys!

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