By Alyssa Ramsfield
Mushroom enthusiasts from all over the globe will gather at Lacey’s Regional Complex Center July 26 – 27 for the seventh annual Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival. This year, the Hawks Prairie Rotary presents the culinary event with two days packed full of chefs, speakers, food, and fun with one goal…to enjoy fungi perfection.
“Every year the festival gets bigger,” explains festival co-chair, Corey Lopardi. “I’ve met people from as far away as England who made it out to enjoy the event. Every year we try to add more to satisfy so many people. We have a lot to offer our community this year.”
The fungi festival begins on Friday evening with a 5k Glow Run. The 5k race features four glow zones and festive glow items. “We added a kids run for ages 10 and under that will include glow water,” says Lopardi. “We even have Party Medics DJ playing music and food available after the run.”
On Saturday, children ages twelve and under are welcome to the Kid Zone. Admission is free for these kids, making the festival the perfect place to take the entire family. The Kid Zone includes Radio Disney at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, The Sounders Women Soccer Team, a fishing booth, Ronald McDonald, bounce house, balloon animals, and alpacas!
The featured speakers are one of the main event highlights. “These are people known for their vast knowledge of mushrooms,” describes Lopardi. Some of the experts hitting the stage include KING 5’s Ciscoe Morris, instructor Tom Keller, Christian Kaelin of Provisions Mushroom Farm, and author Langdon Cook.
Despite all this excitement, the focus of the Mushroom Festival is the food. Cooking demos from some of the best chefs around will be spotlighted all weekend long. There is also plenty of food to sample. The “Shroom Feast” features some of the best culinary offerings around. Just $10 will buy you seven tastings. Mushroom ice cream and Bacon Mushroom Bites are just two of the tantalizing offerings available during the feast.
The Mushroom & Wine Event is a major fundraiser for Hawks Prairie Rotary. For $25, guests will sample seven tastes and receive a commemorative wine glass. Beverages, including selections from Scatter Creek Winery, Hoodsport Winery, Stottle Winery, Stina’s Cellars, Mill Lane Winery, Northwest Mountain Winery, Kastellan Brauerei, and Top Rung Brewing will be paired with delicious mushroom hors d’oeuvres. Live music and a silent wine auction will also be part of this main event.
“The best part about the Mushroom Festival is what happens afterwards,” says Lopardi. “All of the money raised from the weekend helps local causes. Every dollar in profit is turned around and invested back into our community.” Some of these worthy causes include: The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Homeless Backpacks, Hawks Prairie Heroes, education scholarships, clean drinking water projects, and worldwide polio vaccines.
The Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival is so much more than an event to highlight mushrooms. “It’s a completely volunteered event,” explains Lopardi. “My favorite part of the whole weekend is when someone thanks me for putting it on. It gives a lot of families the opportunity to go out and enjoy what our community has to offer.”
To have fun with fungi, check out the 2014 Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival July 26 and 27 at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey. Complete event details can be found at www.pnwmushroomfest.com.