Mushroom Festival is scheduled this weekend
● By Lev
By Carla Lucas
Visitors to the 29th Annual Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square on Sept. 6 and 7 will have tons of choices for fun as they stroll the nearly mile-long Street Fair. And mushrooms, of course, will take center stage.
The Growers' Exhibit is where the region's mushroom growers take you through the process, from the raw ingredients used to make compost to harvesting white button mushrooms. The growers also show how many of the specialty mushrooms -- like shiitake, oyster and royal trumpets -- are grown locally. The Grower's Exhibit is at State and Broad streets.
Competitions are featured in the Special Events tent at State and Willow streets. At noon on Saturday, the six finalists in the Amateur Mushroom Appetizer Cook-Off begin their cooking, with judging starting at 1 p.m. The National Fried Mushroom Eating Contest takes center stage at 3 p.m. Last year's champion, Molly Schuyler, destroyed the world record by devouring nine pounds of fried mushrooms in eight minutes.
There's a line-up of chefs scheduled in the Culinary Tent for all who love to cook with mushrooms. Saturday features this year's Celebrity Chef, Christina Verrelli, who is a two-time winner of the Mushroom Festival's Amateur Cook-Offs. She's gained a national reputation in the amateur cooking competition arena as the Grand Champion of the 2012 Pillsbury Bake-Off, and the runner-up in this spring's "America's Best Cook," on the Food Network. Her demonstration begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the Culinary Tent at Cypress and Broad streets.
If you have ever wanted to see inside a working mushroom house, this will be your final opportunity at the Mushroom Festival. Caputo and Guest Mushroom Company will host one final day, showing their shiitake mushroom growing operation to the public. Timed tickets ($5) are available from the Farm Tours station at the corner of Linden and North Union streets, starting at 10:30 a.m. The first tour leaves at 11 a.m., and the final tour at 3:30 p.m.
As you stroll the Mushroom Mile, be sure to check out the Painted Mushroom Silent Auction. Eight artists have painted the three-foot-tall, 108-pound concrete mushrooms. Bids are accepted during the festival, with the highest bidder taking home a one-of-a-kind work of art when the festival closes on Sunday.
Food with mushrooms can be found from one end of the Street Fair to the other. Along this Mushroom Mile there will be many delicacies to sample -- from crepes and spring rolls to macaroni and cheese, stuffed portabellos and portabello burgers. For a sweet treat, try the mushroom ice cream or popsicles.
The Street Fair is expanded slightly this year, with a few more vendors.
If you like mushroom soup and wines from the region, the Soup and Wine Event on Sunday is the place for you. In the Special Events Tent, guests sample the mushroom soups from local restaurants and wines from the area's vineyards, and vote for their favorites. Tickets, available at the door, are $20 for both soup and wine tastings.
The Community Stage features live music all day Saturday and Sunday. The Children's Stage features live entertainment specifically for the younger crowd.
Also taking place in Kennett Square:
The Old Fashioned Carnival, Friday from 6 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 3 to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. at South and Broad streets;
The Antique and Classic Car Show on Saturday, along Broad Street, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.;
The Mushroom Run/Walk on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. in front of Kennett High School on South Street.
New this year is a Saturday evening concert produced in partnership with the Kennett Flash -- The Music of the Jersey Boys: Light's Out tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Tickets ($30) are on sale at www.kennettflash.org. Doors open at 7 p.m. in the Special Events Tent, with the concert starting at 7:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.mushroomfestival.org.