A Brief History of MFF: The DucKon Years

From today forward I will do my best to talk about the history of MFF. Although I wish I could go into more detail, I am limited by what is available from public sources and what I have permission to use. This pandemic limits what info I could gather directly from MFF, who referred me to a book which has not arrived and will not arrive until much later. Also do to the pandemic, but I wanted to do something MFF related around the planned date of the 2020 convention, all we can hope for is that it will take place in 2021.

MFF got it’s start long before it’s very first convention in 2000.

Midwest FurFest got its start as the furry track for Duckon, a Chicago-based science fiction convention. The furry track was started at Duckon 3 in 1994 and was headed up by Robert King. The track grew larger each year and it was estimated that by Duckon 8 (1999) between one-quarter and one-third of the attendees were there due to interest in the furry track.

The track ran into problems because it was running out of room to expand without costing other parts of Duckon programming space and time. It was decided that the best course of action was to spin off into a new convention.

Thus Midwest Furry Fandom, Inc. was created and Midwest FurFest was born, to take place in November 2000, on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The parting was amicable, and Duckon lent a good bit of expertise and manpower to help make the first year of Midwest FurFest a success.

So what was Duckon? Duckon was an annual science fiction convention held every June in the Chicago area. The name is a reflection of the convention organizer’s suburban roots, a shortening of DUpage County KONvention (DuPage County being located just west of Chicago).

Duckon is a fundraiser for Super-Con-Duck-Tivity, an organization that has Golden Duck Awards for excellence in children’s science fiction literature.

According to first hand accounts you can think of it like a mini anime con. But being Pre 2000 more normal clothes than costumes. That was until The Furry Panel started to get more and more popular. It seems on the day it was held DucKon would get the most visitors. I have been told the crowd jumped as much as 60% vs other days at DucKon. By the time DucKon 8 happened it wasn’t just The Furry Panel everyone wanted to see. It was a full blown furry day, and according to my source they even had fursuiters. Dealers only there that day selling “Furry” merchandise and etc. It was like a 1 day fur con.

I wish I could post photos but I was unable to find any for this article.

By the time 2015 rolled around and I planned on attending DucKon for the first time. My source had informed me that Sunday was furry day. Which meant despite maybe few to no furry panels. It was a day fursuiters would literally take over. But unfortunately DucKon was cancelled.

In addition DucKon was held in 11 different locations during it’s 23 year long history. Ranging from Marriott Oak Brook where it started to Weston Chicago North in Wheeling, IL where it ended in 2014.

Even though the last DucKon was in 2014 there has never been a clear reason why it ended. Any guess on my part would only add to the rumors. It wasn’t like they were unsuccessful they were averaging around 600 per convention, and the hotel was happy who knows.

Sources: Wikifur and Wikipedia