Earlier this month I attended BronyCon, a convention for "bronies", or people who are fans of "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic". With over 8,000 attendees, it is the biggest convention of its kind.
No, I do not identify as a brony. I've seen the show, and it's good animation and solid storytelling. If I had children, I'd watch the show. But I do not feel enough of a connection at this time to self-identify as a brony.
A few reasons. First, I was curious about the brony fandom, especially its explosive growth--BronyCon is only 3 years old, and they had over 8,000 attendees this year. Second, I wanted to work a convention outside of my comfort zone for a change. Third... we kinda had a staff swap going. At Anthrocon last month, BronyCon's Operations Director worked for me in my department. So I returned the favor and worked for BronyCon this year.
Yep, I worked for the VIP Relations team, or VIPR for short. One difference between BronyCon and other kinds of conventions I worked is the larger number of guests who are voice actors and relatively famous in real life. Due to the increased attention that guests would get, each guest had a "handler" assigned to them for the duration of the convention. That means your schedule is your guest's schedule. You meet your guest in the hotel when they head out in the morning, and you're on duty until they head back to their hotel for the night. You are responsible for escorting them to each panel and stage appearance on time, and are basically their Point of Contact for the convention itself.
I would describe the atmosphere of BronyCon as "furry friendly". Fursuits roamed around the public areas and the "cosplay lounge" actually said "Cosplay and Fursuit Lounge" on the sign, a clear indication that fursuits were quite welcome at the convention. Anthrocon also had a presence in the Dealers Hall, and they actually had to run out and get more fliers printed during the convention because they had given out nearly all of the ones they brought with them!
From my experience on staff and my interactions with other convention attendees, I think I can say that furries and bronies have a great deal in common. I feel that both groups should consider working more closely in the future, as they could learn from each other.
I took a risk by working a convention outside of my comfort zone and... it paid off. I may not consider myself a brony, but met some amazing people and I fully intend to attend the convention next year and hopefully work again as a staff member.
I didn't take as many photos as I wanted to this convention, but those that I did can be found here: