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Weeklong 'OctoBEARfest' Roars Into Village with Annual 'Fur Ball'

By Andrea Swalec | September 17, 2012 2:28pm

GREENWICH VILLAGE — This Oktoberfest celebration is more brawny man than beer stein. 

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center has announced that this year's annual "Fur Ball" — celebrating the subculture of gay men who refer to themselves as "bears" — will be just one part of OctoBEARfest, a "weeklong celebration of everything furry" next month in Greenwich Village.

A spokeswoman for the LGBT Center, which is located on West 13th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, said the increased number of bear events this year comes in response to demand. 

"The Fur Ball has been so popular that we decided to expand it to several events during the week," she said. 

OctoBEARfest co-chair Robert Valin spoke with DNAinfo.com New York earlier this year and defined "bear" for the uninitiated. 

"The stereotypical bear is a blue-collar guy with a little bit of extra weight and facial hair," Valin said. "I don't think most bears look gay to people. They look like the kind of guys women want to bring home to their families." 

OctoBEARfest will kick off at 8 p.m., Monday, Oct. 1, with a "Bear-BQ" at the 75 Greenwich Ave. restaurant Bone Lick Park, according to The Center's website. There's no cover, and food and drink specials include 35-cent wings, $3.50 margaritas, and $3 shots and draft beer. 

The following night, guests can enjoy food and drinks at 508 GastroBrewery, located at 508 Greenwich St., for the "Bears & Beers" event. 

Tickets for dinner, beer and wine for three hours cost $95 for "early bears" who reserve spots by Sept 21, and $125 after. 

VIP admission costs $150 per person and will include an hour-long bourbon tasting and class, a growler mug, and a "Bear-centric" gift bag, according to The Center's website. 

Bears looking for love can attend the "Bear Bating" dating event at the Center Thursday, Oct. 4, starting at 7 p.m. 

"Looking for a furry man to call your own? Meet your match at this big, hairy, speed-dating event for those of the ursine persuasion. Set your traps, boys, because the hunt is on!" the Center's website reads. Admission costs $10 online and $15 at the door. 

The week will close off with the "Fur Ball" at The Center from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., with techno and house DJ Corey Craig setting the mood. Tickets cost $10 each.

OctoBEARfest co-chair Joe Fiore told The Village Voice that bears are increasingly seeking out bear-specific social events. 

"Currently, bears definitely prefer bear events," he said. "They don't want to be singled out as fat, hairy guys."

OctoBEARfest runs Oct. 1-6.