"Here she sits down in a valley in the inland empire near some orange and grapefruit groves. But what's that up there? Why, the mountain I live on, with good ol Idyllwild getting the snow we usually get this time of year! ..."
Its obvious how much time has passed since we have posted to you, oh website. Lockdown 2020 happened, and I told you what was happening. A short time later Stego had to make that call to OC Parks related to our annual event (which had to be canceled). Even then we had a feeling that what was happening then, was not going to go away anytime soon. Im sure many people noticed that there hasn’t been any new things to update you guys with (beyond us tweeting and retweeting some small things from our Twitter acct)
Once our calendar was taken down, I (Kat) tried to think about what we might do in the meantime. We knew some of our community had gone deeper into social media, and taking things online (using services like Twitter and Discord to notify people of a live stream, online art jams, and the like). Virtual events are definitely an option, which brought thoughts back to a “locals directory”, an idea I had before and had since shelved. However, it seemed that, when I entertained the idea to others (Local community, mid 2020), I just got a lot of silence back. With everyone’s social bandwidth so low, and the massive effect on others’ mental health, I definitely did not want to push further.
So, I just kept watch on some things within the furry community. I took mental notes as we began to learn more and more about the virus and its transmission. While we stood fast against the compulsion to let fear run our lives, there was no time I felt comfortable bringing the calendar back. As it was, I had seen some dangers in one or two of the local organizers, who seemed to still want to run events, when there was still no vaccine available (and one of those two events was being held indoors with no change to capacity limits). We noted this (and who these people were), but were pleased to see that a decent chunk of SoCal fandom locals were being careful.
I would think back on things and wonder “What can we do with our site that makes sense in the now? Is now an okay time to try and posting events again?” Honestly, I still would like some input from people on this, especially as I watch how things work in the aftermath of a convention weekend and people posting their COVID test results. With the pandemic, things can change and I want to do things with as much room to change with any new factors related to mitigating transmission. I have been writing down some ideas on how we can tailor our events calendar and provide some degree of safety considerations for people to think about as they get back out there. Would anyone be interested in helping out with our website with what we could plan?
I’m still going through some of the technical aspects to our site. SoCalFurs.com currently uses WordPress, and will be using the Modern Events Calendar plugin for posting events. I have been playing with labeling and tagging functions over on my test server (see this progress thread). .There is potential to (still) do something with this website, and I know it. If you share this sentiment (maybe you were one of the people who answered our poll), please reach out via our contact page. My overall schedule and work-fun balance is not as consistent as it once was but, Im usually around and hang out in the SoCal Furs’ Telegram chat. Id love to (finally) bring more people into the circle and make a good effort on this.
Its winter, and with that comes the cold and flu season. This can lead to lower volume of attendance at some of the events we feature here on our calendar.
However, towards late January, the nation has had a new kind of virus in our midst — COVID19. As February turned to March, we began hearing of a number of different events starting to cancel or postpone. Even the furry community has been reacting to these concerns, and by this week, event cancellations have been coming in from fur meet organizers. Sad to say, but social distancing is one of the ways to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Stego and I had been silently making plans for FurBQ, and we did manage to make a reservation sometime in late fall. While this usually leads to a subsequent update here on this blog … we are gonna hang tight with those announcements. It is possible that more events may also cancel, and we will continue to update this website, our Meetup calendar, and of course blip it out to our social media channels.
Already, some of the events that are affected by these health concerns seem slated to postpone until October. This could mean more furry (and related) events going on in our state around the time proceeding our scheduled reservation. We are looking at July 1st as a date to make the final call on whether FurBQ can happen this year.
All of the cancellations of big events, fan conventions and parties does affect many event staff and vendors, who may lose money or employment because of these closures. For anyone on social media, you may have seen hashtags like #ECCOnline and #homecon, and entire threads dedicated to allow affected artists to plug their store or online commission forms.
This plays into an idea that I have been rolling around in my head, just related to helping promote furry artists and fursuit makers from Southern California. In short, the idea would be to provide a listing of local artists, with links to their respective shops, art sites, and other places where you can view artwork and get in touch with them. However, I feel like this is something Id like to build up with other website designers and WordPress peeps. Id like to have more of SoCalFurs.com’s improvements shaped by people outside of myself, getting more of a mix for influence. With me starting my new 40 hour a week job, I definitely could use the help.
So, if you are down with this idea please get in touch. If need be, maybe we can set up an online space for round table discussions, and get this idea off the ground ….. alongside fixing this website’s outdated theme 😉 For all the issues that I have observed and experienced**, I continually see the kind of community fostered here in Southern California. (Some of us) may be socially distancing ourselves while we deal with some Real Life Serious Stuff, but I know our community will be here and come back stronger than ever.
** I admit, my relation to community (in general, as a concept…not just furry) has been a bit strained this last year or so due to some needed Self-Care and improvement. On a personal level, I have had to get past some trust issues caused by things observed in my community, my experience as convention staff, and a bit from from being burned by previous SoCal Furs staff (and staff-adjacent) people.
What a crazy week and a half it has been! Things are (still) slowly getting packed away, but the memories and fun linger from FurBQ 2019.
We had gone to bed, feeling we are as ready as we could be for this year’s prep. Beep beep went the alarm, and we rolled out of bed. With half of the stuff pre-packed into the car, we only had a few trips to make, and packed the coolers. We headed down the mountain around 4:45am, looking ahead to the road. Nearing Orange County, we kept our eyes out on our Weather app and Kat looked at the sky for the clouds. We arrived just as the park was opening, with barely a wait. Kat had a very brisk walk in almost darkness, as she put the signs up along the way down the park’s road.
As cold as the morning was, many of our usual attendees were there first thing. People were milling around the lot, and there was a bit of movement as people began to bring up the food or items they were contributing. Ahki/Parawolf showed up with a full rolling cart of goodies. From the unloading going on, I could tell that our breakfast time was going to get on a whole new level.
We had a full kitchen stock worth of breakfast items — from bacon (thanks to Blackie’s dad for bringing some cooked bacon. Parawolf must have gone through about a dozen eggs, and still had a good deal remaining.
Admittedly, if the rain wasn’t something that we were looking to the skies for….we were also having to pay attention to one of the trees on the farther side of the picnic grounds. As luck would have it, we had some familiar ‘friends’ that we would be hosting alongside our attendees — BEES! Yup, not just a visible presence of bees, but a whole tree full of them. While Kat was walking around filling holes and adding signs, Stego made contact with park staff who were able to send someone over to put in a report so that the bee nest could be dealt with properly at a later date. The ranger also placed some helpful signs that (hopefully) other furs would read. From general conversation, there was some constructive ideas for next year. Someone (I wish we could remember thier name) had even brought us a plastic bottle style trap, which would be a humane way to deal with the problem. We would like to put a call out to any suggestions of some humane bee traps that we can purchase in bulk.
Leo Tsubasa had also arrived and was eager to set up. Unfortunately, due to some changes made in his grilling area, we found that it was better to coalesce his grilling stations with the ones that Stego likes to use. Parawolf remained on that other side, with his coffee station set up for all the furs that would come that morning. If you can believe it, 6 gallons of coffee was consumed (and 100 hot cups used) by the time 6:30am rolled around, and Parawolf began running out. Outside of the coffee, many loved the other hot drinks that Parawolf had to offer. Even I hoped to snag a cup of hot cocoa, but the morning kept me quite busy.
The pickup truck belonging to Chance the Dragon rolled up early, despite how far he (and the other San Diego furries) must drive to reach Irvine. I would say that the ground was probably still wet, but with the impending weather reports of previous days, these furries were prepared. Moving with efficiency, this series of Easy-Up tents were ready to receive furries within the hour of their arrival.
As the day went on, a few of us would occasionally look to the sky. The clouds wanted to hang around, and we had an idea of how the “chance of precipitation” would change through the day. A few furs had set up two Easy-Ups with no walls, and were serving drinks (sodas, non-alcoholic beverages, etc..). Nearby, a table was set up for artists to chat and work on sketches. As much concern as people did show about the rain before the event, I think people were unphased by the cooler weather.
At three, it was time for what has become tradition – the big group photo. Big groups of furs were moving all around the field area by around 2:45. (Sorry, Chance! I totally spaced on that and was telling people 3:30 for some reason. Thanks for the heads up) I had been talking with a first-time attendee who originally thought to stay out of the shot, but even I found myself doing some (light) herding of this fursuiter. Believe me, it doesnt matter how partial your fursuit is, or whether your head is perfect…. Chance wants you in the shot! He even herded me down the middle and I wished my new friends off as they piled into one of the middle rows. Thanks to our fur-tographers who were down for some fursuit wrangling and getting the right shot. Also, the tall ladder and the 2 accompanying drones were also helpful to help our ever-growing fursuit population squeeze in.
A short while after the crowd broke apart, it began to sprinkle. This reminded me to get into gear about cleaning up the grounds. Sometimes, finding help is hard because people have scheduled things after the event. With the rain being noticed by everyone, I knew there might be some who dont want to wait it out and might just leave. I took moments to connect with attendees as I went around and grabbed any errant soda cans. Trigger Happy Squirrel brought his large recycling bin (the large blue ones that many people have for recycling pickup at their house) back to the event, and so that allowed for a lot of our plastics and aluminum to be taken off of the grounds. We didnt have as many trash cans set up on the far end of the table due to the proximity of the “bee tree”, so with others’ help, we were able to keep things from piling up. Despite the weather and the lowering sun, Stego and I saw a visible improvement between the chaos of last year and this year, and we really appreciate that more people stuck by to help. (Blue Jaguar, Brum, Janala, and Kirin… you guys really stuck it out for us. Also, some of the San Diego furs really stuck it out to the end, despite that long drive home)
Did you lose anything at FurBQ? If you are still searching through your personal effects, please let us know if you think you might have lost something on the FurBQ grounds. While everyone was doing trash detail, we did pick up a few things (clothing items, a belt, sports equipment, and yes… the quintessential single fursuit paw).
By morning, we still were feeling the long work of that amazing day. Each year, we have a set of notes to take home, related to making sure we can improve on this fun event. With the population size, we have some big things to think about as we look to 2020.
With all the trolling from Mother Nature, and our normal worries about having enough/budgeting enough for the reservations and food…. The furry community comes together again and really makes this event what it was. When it came to the (official) grilling, Stego and Leo really take on a whole day of standing at a hot grill. Kona Roo was here for fun, but he ended up jumping into the fray and made some delicious elotes.
We are a bit taken aback this year, as we also got a $600 donation in food and supplies from the Huntington Park Chapter of the Elks Lodge. Our event brings alot of different groups of people together, with diverse backgrounds and hobbies. Elks Lodge #1415 is a little known part of FurBQ history, having attended our events in the last 5+ years. This is a big deal to us and something that really knocked Stego over with a feather.
Also, we have to hand it to the people who were able to donate to our Ko-fi, for the 2019 event: Blue Hasia, WhiskeyWuf, Rivercoon, Ubervoop, Leo Tsubasa, Anna Songbird
First, a bit of post-FurBQ 2018 update. Really, I think our reaction can best be described as “pleasantly knocked over with a feather”, on just how many different kinds of energy filled our event with love and encouraged positive experience.
Photo courtesy of Blue Hasia : https://bluehasia.smugmug.com/
The event was an even larger turnout, due to all the furs that came in from out of town to support Dogbomb. We knew there was going to be a small group for the morning, as many of you were walking it out for ALS research. We were prepared for this and, when the ALS walk was over, Stego (and Leo Tsubasa) had quite the work ahead. We were only sorry that we didnt see The Dogbomb Himself, but good dogs need to rest their paws.
By early afternoon, our usual population numbers returned, and we hit that peak time. People created groupings of blankets and folding chairs, creating social areas all along the grassy area by the wall. Furries burst out into ecstatic dance in the California sunshine. Thanks to the San Diego Furries, we hit the largest “fursuit lounge” yet, and it was so spacious even with all the fursuiters that join us. Chance the Dragon, Ceasie and other San Diego furries were happy to help keep people hydrated. You really made it that much easier for people to fursuit. Soon it was time to take the group photo. Without warning, Stego and I found ourselves pulled into the group photo. Suddenly, we were surrounded by all the fluffy good energy, even if it was an unexpected thing (oh, Chance… you are such a persuasive dragon).
Our November contingency plan did afford some cool weather. We were happy that the bees did not return. There was a decent amount of cleanup ahead of us, and the earlier park closure presented a challenge. Also, we did have more possessions left behind, that left us scrambling for room when we packed out. Thanks to Janala Blackspire, Brum Da Bronze, Kirimi Blackspire, Chance, and Howlie for being able to stick around and help us. We really wanted to get that lawn area extra clean.
Special Thanks to..
Leo Tsubasa for taking up the extra grilling area and helping with all the furs that came in around 1 or 2, hungry as heck.
Ubervoop for giving us a generous sized cooler to use for the event. We will work on getting this back to you. Also, this is the man responsible for those awesome buttons, gifts, and stickers celebrating our 20th year. You do not know how many smiles you created, and providing some memorable keepsakes. Oh, and the piñata! So many furries took a whack at this one.
Chance (our fursuit photo wrangling dragon)
Ahki for bringing your coffee set-up. Breakfast food, coffee and tea have become a regular thing for us early risers.
Ceasie and all the San Diego furs who made this so awesome (I know I forgot so many of the names that should be on this line)
Seppo Kun, Ryker Husky and Blue Hasia for taking so many wonderfully composed photos of this event
Looking forward, its time to plan for this event all over again. These last few weeks, we were able to check into fall dates.
This will be our 21st annual event, and will be back on the Summer hours. Our event is for furries of all kinds, and their fans. In the next months, we will be working on planning and gathering resources to see if we cant make this another memorable one!
Rolling through March, we have stayed behind the scenes making sure we really consider what we plan for this year’s annual FurBQ. Without further ado, we can now say that we have secured our spot.
SoCal Furs’ 20th annual FurBQ is happening this Fall, on Saturday November 10th. We will have plenty of time to bust out some picnic supplies. The FurBQ is a long standing tradition and we will return to our green and shady spot within Irvine Regional Park
Please go to the full Event Calendar Posting for a full rundown of information
Finding a date was challenging this year, as the Canyon Fire took out one of the four Reserved picnic areas. This created heavy competition for the remaining three reserved spaces. The November slot we chose was the only one available After the Pumpkin Patch festival: The alternative would have been too early in September (the week after Labor Day), which would have made it a true FurBQ (All those overheated fursuiters and costumers). Our Past Fall FurBQs, held on Nov 16th 2013 and Nov 14 2015, both fared well with the cooler weather and were enjoyed by everyone despite the shorter park time.
In the next 6 months, we have some ideas and plans. We will keep you informed with our social media network of sites. Overall, we have been wanting to do something special for our community. With this being our 20th year, its destined that we should have something to commemorate all these awesome memories.