Parent’s Guide

If your child has expressed interest in Midwest FurFest or the furry fandom as a whole, we’re sure you have some questions. Read on for answers to some of the most common ones, and don’t hesitate to contact us if there’s something we haven’t covered here.

What is Midwest FurFest and what does it do?

Each year, Midwest FurFest showcases and raises funds for an area animal related non profit. In previous years, these have included wildlife sanctuaries, rescue agencies, and charities related to support or police/military animals. Over our 18 year history, we have raise well over a million dollars for our various charities.

In terms of our educational goals, much of our panel and workshop programming deals with tutorials of various types. The topics range from year to year, but you will generally see panels on improving your artwork or writing, starting a small business based your talent, costume construction or performance, and much more. You may also see a panel covering a topic that isn’t related for furry, such as a panel discussing a particular career or interest that relates to a sizeable number of our attendees. Beyond programming, the dealers room, artist alley and art show provides venues for people to showcase their talent.

Another goal for the convention beyond our two main stated goals is to provide a social venue and entertainment for our attendees. Attendees from all over the country and all over the world come to Chicago each year for Midwest FurFest. Many of these people are friends that have found each other via the internet or at other events, and our convention provides one of the few times they may be able to see each other during the year.

What is the furry fandom?

A fandom is a collection of people who are interested in a similar topic; think football fans or fans of a TV show. Furry in general is the study and/or appreciation of anthropomorphic animals, which are animals with human characteristics. Think Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons, Zootopia and Bugs Bunny.

What furry means to each individual can vary and it may be different from person to person in the fandom. For some, it is just the appreciation of animals and anthropomorphic animals. Others may develop their own characters based on real or fantastical animals or mixes of either. For some, these characters are just masks they put on when in the community, but others may feel a spiritual connection between themselves and their character.

What are some events at Midwest FurFest?

Midwest FurFest plays host to many and varied events. In addition to the panel and workshop programming mentioned above, we have larger events including concerts, comedy, and talent shows, as well as an auction of donated items to benefit our convention charity.

A highlight of the weekend is Fursuit Menagerie, which takes place on Saturday afternoon. During this time, many of our attendees gather in their costumes to show off and take photos with each other and with other attendees.

Do you need a costume to attend Midwest FurFest?

Absolutely not! A majority of our attendees do not own costumes.

Is Midwest FurFest age-appropriate?

Midwest FurFest offers a variety of programming and events intended for a wide spectrum of audiences. Programming at Midwest FurFest is generally appropriate for all ages, including all daylight hour events. Selected events and programming are specifically geared toward our younger attendees, and will be indicated in our schedule. Certain evening programming involving mature themes, or otherwise inappropriate for minors, may be restricted to adults only; such programming is clearly indicated on event schedules.

While costuming and conduct for all attendees must comply with our code of conduct and applicable legal statute, parents should expect a wider variety of costuming and expression after the sun sets. In addition, certain vendor and gallery areas contain material which may be inappropriate for minors. Such areas do not permit entry to minors under any circumstance, and vendors are required to ensure such material is not displayed or visible to minors regardless of the vendor's assigned area.

Attendees under the age of 18 are issued clearly identifiable minor badges. Admittance to mature programming, vendor areas, and galleries are restricted to adults 18 years or older, and enforced either by badge check or legal photo ID age verification. Parents and guardians are reminded that children should be accompanied at all times, even at child specific events, and are responsible for both the location and conduct of their charges.

What are the registration policies and prices for children at Midwest Furfest?

Children 17 years of age may attend the convention without their parents or guardians, but must provide a signed and notarized copy of our parental permission form, which is available here.

Children under 17 may attend only with their parent/guardian or with another adult that has been given permission to act as the child’s guardian. To attend without their parent/guardian, the child must bring a signed and notarized copy of our short term guardian form, which is available here.

Attendees 13 years old and older pay the full registration price. Children between 12 and 6 are charged half price for any standard attendee level and children under 6 are admitted free. We are also happy to provide a free badge to parents/guardians that are attending with their child.

For full details, please see our Registration and Registration FAQ pages.

Where should I park?

For those not staying at a local hotel, there is a parking garage across River Road from the convention center where our attendees can park. Please see our Parking Information page for more information and rates.

If you are local to the area, you can skip parking since we are also very convenient to the CTA Blue Line. Please see our Travel page for more information.

What is there to eat?

There are several dining options provided by the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and the Rosemont Convention Center, ranging from grab-and-go to table service. Additionally there is a Starbucks located in the main lobby of the Rosemont Convention Center. Finally, there are many dining options within easy walking distance (or with the aid of the free Rosemont Circulator shuttle bus). More information can be found here.