This year, the Mushroom Festival chose a husband and wife team, Mark and Jo Beth Thompson, as its honorary chairpersons.
Mark became involved with the festival through his volunteer efforts with the Miss Mushroom Pageant, 30 years ago. He played a role for many years in organizing the annual Community Parade. He also served three terms on the Mushroom Festival's Board of Directors and was its president for two years. He served on the board as the Mushroom Festival transitioned from a small-town local event to one with a national appeal and reputation.
A cook, Jo Beth used her talents to bring an array of guest chefs to the Culinary Tent each year. Jo Beth spends most of her time during the festival in the Culinary Tent, hosting the chefs and supporting them for their mushroom cooking demonstrations. She also organized one of the festival's most popular events, the Amateur Mushroom Soup Cook-Off. One of her major accomplishments was working to bring a professional demonstration kitchen to the Culinary Tent.
Mark and Jo Beth grew up and live in Kennett Square. Mark graduated with Kennett High School’s class of 1968 and Jo Beth with the class of 1970. Jo Beth works for Kitchen Kapers, in Wilmington, Del. Mark is the sales manager at Diver Chevrolet, in Wilmington. They have two children, Matthew and Patrick; and one grandchild, Kacey.
As honorary chairs, both Mark and Jo Beth will ride at the head of the Community Parade this year. They will also select a charity to receive a donation in their name from the Mushroom Festival.