Thursday, September 12, 2013

Annual Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, PA

As I was hunting around for good mushrooms at the farmer's markets in DC, one of the vendors suggested I go to the Mushroom Festival in Pennsylvania. He told me it is a huge celebration of mushrooms and that sounded right up my alley.

The Annual Mushroom Festival is always held the weekend after Labor Day. I arrived right when they opened, which was great because I could actually walk through the festival! Later it got so crowded that it was difficult to maneuver through everyone. They close many streets in Kennett Square, the world's leading city for mushrooms, and they line the streets with booths and vendors. There was everything from local clothing stores and pursemakers to bonsai trees and, of course, mushrooms!  The coolest thing about this festival is that all of the mushrooms for sale are donated by the local mushroom farms so when you buy your mushrooms, the money goes to 50 different charities. I placed my order for maitake, king trumpet, and oyster mushrooms early. They also had button, portobello, and shiitake, but I can get those anytime.

For lunch, I tried some mushroom rolls from Lily and had a salad topped with smoked portobello with basil and hot sauce. Yum!  There was also veggie chili made with mushrooms, but I could only eat so much!

I picked up some great pasta from Pappardelle's. What a treat to have seen them here!

But, most of all, I enjoyed the educational part of this festival. There was a tent where you could learn about how they grow the cultivated mushroom varieties grown in Kennett Square. From the blending and autoclaving to the growing stage, there is a lot more to growing mushrooms than I realized.

I even got to take a tour of a shiitake factory, which is only open to the public during this festival. It was fascinating to hear that they receive 1,100 logs per day that they use to grow shiitakes in these warehouse-like grow houses. They even let us taste a fresh shiitake off the log. It was so good!

Upon returning, I opted not to stay for the fried mushroom eating contest though that would have been entertaining. Instead I headed over to the mushroom outlet and bought more oyster mushrooms. One pound for $4! Yes, please.

I had an awesome time at the mushroom festival.  My goal was to score some Pom Pom (Lion's Mane) mushrooms and even though they were not for sale that day, I convinced one of the guys in the educational tent to give me some. Score!  If you love mushrooms, I encourage you to check out the festival. It'll be back next September.

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