America’s Strangest and Weirdest Conventions

For the last three years, American photographer Arthur Drooker has been to a dozen conventions across the country, photographing some of the quirkiest gatherings such as mermaids, clowns, Santas, fetishists and Lincoln look-alikes. Yet, he has barely begun. According to one estimate, America holds a staggering 1.2 million conventions, conferences, and trade shows every year. That’s nearly 3,000 gatherings every day! These unusual gatherings allow like-minded people to congregate, bond, and express themselves.

“Regardless of what they’re about, where they’re held or who attends them, all conventions satisfy a basic human urge: a longing for belonging,” says Arthur Drooker. “At conventions, people who share similar interests, even obsessions, come together to bond and to be themselves without fear, apology or explanation. The outside world doesn’t matter. In fact, for the weekend duration of most conventions, the outside world doesn’t even exist.”



Association of Lincoln Presenters, Natchez, Mississippi.



Santa Drill Team, Santa Celebration, Tampa, Florida.



Brony Parade, BronyCon, Baltimore.



At Ease, Military History Fest, St. Charles, Illinois.



Mermaid Matrimony, Merfest, Cary, North Carolina.



Zoo, Anthrocon, Pittsburgh.

Anthrocon (abbreviated AC) is the world’s largest furry convention, taking place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania each June or July. Its focus is on furries: fictional anthropomorphic animal characters in art and literature. The convention was first held in 1997 in New York State, and draws over 5,000 attendees annually. Anthrocon 2016 drew 7,310 attendees, with 2,100 fursuiters participating in the fursuit parade.



Fetish Con, at Tampa Hilton, Florida



World Taxidermy & Fish Carving Championships, Springfield, Illinois


Las Vegas convention stats:

How many conventions are held per year?

21,306 were held last year.

That is 58 conventions a day being held in Las Vegas, however, since conventions usually last 2-3 days, there would be well over a 100 conventions on the go on any given day.

How many delegates attended?
2015 saw 5,891,151 attendees.

The 37th ‘Vent Haven Convention bills itself as ‘the oldest and largest annual gathering of ventriloquists’ This one in Cincinnati.


And last, but not least, the Celebrity Impersonator Convention.







opening night at the International Guild of Celebrity Impersonators & Tribute Artists' fourth annual World Convention of Famous Reflections at the Stardust Resort & Casino August 7, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada.


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