Mushrooms may not be everyone's favorite food, but these edible fungi have still managed to inspire a wealth of celebrations across the United States and beyond. At mushroom festivals, food fans can sample products and watch demonstrations from mushroom cultivators. Some mushroom festivals focus on specific forms of fungi, such as morels, while others offer a more varied coverage of different mushrooms.
The Southern state of Kentucky plays host to a mushroom festival in April. The Mountain Mushroom Festival (mountainmushroomfestival.org), held in Irvine, celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2010. The festival focuses on the morel mushroom, and is free for visitors. Other attractions include entertainment, antiques and arts and crafts booths. The Texas Mushroom Festival (texasmushroomfestival.com) is an annual event found in the city of Madisonville. This festival provides visitors with opportunities to sample not only mushrooms but also a range of Texan wines. The festival organizers hope that the event will bring together the community and give local businesses a chance to showcase their wares.
The state of Michigan is a hotbed of mushroom festivals. In Boyne City, visitors to the National Morel Mushroom Festival (morelfest.com) will find morel-filled culinary delights cooked up by local restaurants, and will have an opportunity to listen to songs written about morels, and even join in on a mushroom-themed treasure hunt. Claiming to be the mushroom capital of the U.S., Mesick, Michigan, hosts a festival (mesick-mushroomfest.org) each year. Cultivators of black morels can enter the mushroom contest, but for everyone else there's craft stalls, a beer tent and carnival rides.
Eugene, Oregon, hosts one of the mushroom events on the West Coast. This mushroom festival (mountpisgaharboretum.org/festivals) is held annually in October and features opinions from experts on all things mushroom-related, as well as a display of hundreds of different fungi collected in the western half of the state. Other activities include a scarecrow-building contest and cider stalls. Over in Washington State, the town of Lacey organizes the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival (pnwmushroomfest.com) during July. The event attracted 8,000 visitors at its fourth annual festival in 2011. Highlights include chefs' demonstrations and a tour of a mushroom farm, as well as live music and children's activities.
Outside of the U.S., some mushroom festivals have gained international renown. The Trossachs Mushroom Festival (mushroomfestival.co.uk) is hosted by Scottish towns such as Aberfoyle, but its inspiration lies in China, and it's held in conjunction with the Chinese Embassy. Foods available include fungi-inspired dishes as well as stir-fry offerings. Entertainment meanwhile consists of both Chinese traditions such as costumed dragons and British staples such as ceilidh dance gatherings. In Uzumlu, in Turkey, a mushroom festival was held for the first time in 2009 to celebrate the tradition of using locally-grown fungi in dishes. The Uzumlu Morel Festival features culinary samples as well as folk dancing and talks from mushroom experts.
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