POSTED ON OCTOBER 26, 2011:
World's largest outdoor furry convention
More than 300 animal enthusiasts, also called "furries," came from as far away as Britain to attend Oklacon, an annual "fur con" held in Watonga.
The unconventional convention is held each year at Roman Nose State Park from Oct. 19-24, and benefits Safari's Interactive Animal Sanctuary in Broken Arrow.
According to a press release for Oklacon, Safari's faces financial challenges in the winter months, when gate admissions to the exotic animal sanctuary drop.
In its ninth year, Oklacon hosts a week of fun, furry events to raise money and awareness for Safari's.
About 40 "fur cons" are held across the globe each year, and bring together animal lovers who adopted creative animal-related nicknames and sometimes dress up in "fursuits."
Public media is frequently shut out of furry cons, after a spate of highly publicized stories suggested the events were sexual in nature.
"We're a great group of folks who just like to have a great time in the park to raise funds for charity," McElroy said. "Many have come out for years and years, so it's something between a traditional convention and an outdoor family reunion weekend for us."
Most furry conventions take place in hotels and convention centers, and attract thousands of people. Oklahoma's event has the distinction of hosting the world's largest outdoor furry convention, Oklacon.
Events at Oklacon include traditional camping, hiking, and outdoor sporting activities, as well as a wide variety of visual and performance arts that celebrate animal characters.
Since 1995, Safari's has rescued exotic animals and provides rehabilitation and a permanent home to more than 250 animals.
Oklacon has raised $26,492 in direct donations, a number that rises to more than $35,000 when combined with in-kind donations. Oklacon is the sanctuary's largest charitable contributor.
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