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Chester County Press

Family, Food, Fun & Fungi

08/23/2021 05:09PM ● By Steven Hoffman

You’ve probably driven by the mushroom houses hundreds of times and not even noticed. But behind those nondescript buildings that dot the landscape in and around Kennett Square, an economic engine is humming. 

Kennett Square is home to the Mushroom Capital of the World. The area accounts for nearly two-thirds of all commercial mushroom production in the U.S., meaning from Philadelphia to Phoenix, if you enjoy mushrooms on your pizza, in your salads, or stuffed, sauteed or sliced, they quite possibly came from Kennett Square. 

Now that calls for a celebration!  For more than 30 years, the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival has showcased the mushroom industry and the surrounding community. And after pandemic restrictions forced the cancellation of the well-known event in 2020, the 36th Annual Mushroom Festival is back with the theme, Rooted in the Community.

“We are excited to be able to host this event, which has become a destination event for families here in Chester County and beyond,” said Gina Puoci, the 2021 Mushroom Festival President. 

“At its core, the Mushroom Festival is an opportunity for the Kennett Square mushroom farms to give back to the community in which they work and live,” explained Gale Ferranto of Buona Foods, who recently joined the Festival Committee as Mushroom Festival Coordinator. 

Each year, proceeds from the Festival are awarded to local charities and non-profit organizations. Over the past 20 years, the Mushroom Festival has donated more than $1 million in funds to local organizations for things like books, playground equipment, food, transportation, and healthcare services.

“This year, perhaps more than in years past, we want to highlight all the wonderful businesses and groups that support the Kennett Square community, including the mushroom farms which employ so many, as well as the businesses and restaurants that support our town. Like our theme suggests, this year the Mushroom Festival is truly Rooted in the Community,” Ferranto added. 

This year’s event will satisfy mushroom lovers and mushroom wanna-be lovers—learn how mushrooms grow with a visit to the famous mushroom growing tent, sample delicious mushroom goodies and browse the variety of mushroom and non-mushroom crafts. Plus, festival-goers can watch the amateur cooking contest, the famous amateur friend mushroom eating contest, cooking demonstrations, bid on mushroom art, enjoy kids’ entertainment, music and more.

New this year is the Mushroom Festival app. Download the app on Apple or Google Play for schedule updates, ticket, parking and other Festival info, mushroom facts and more.

The 36th Annual Mushroom Festival will take place at 600 S. Broad Street in Kennett Square on Saturday, Sept. 11 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person. 

For more information, download the Mushroom Festival app or visit

SLUG: Mushroom article


Mushroom Facts

  • Mushrooms double in size every 24 hours.
  • Pennsylvania mushroom growers have William Swayne to thank for the long tradition of mushroom growing in the state. The successful Kennett Square florist conceived the idea of growing mushrooms beneath his greenhouse benches in the late 1800s.
  • Mushrooms are 90 percent water.
  • Mushrooms do not need sunlight to grow.
  • One Portabella mushroom has more Potassium than a medium banana.
  • Mushrooms are low in calories and sodium, and fat, cholesterol and gluten-free.
  • Today’s growers use smart management and production practices that use less than two gallons of water to produce one pound of button mushrooms – that’s about 32 (8 oz) glasses of water to grow, harvest, and process an entire pound of mushrooms, compared with an average of 50 gallons of water per pound of other fresh produce items.
  • Mushrooms are a fairly low-energy footprint crop. Producing one pound of button mushrooms takes 1.0 kilowatt hour (kwh) of electricity. This is the same amount of energy (1 kwh) as it takes to run a coffeemaker for one hour each day.
  • From the compost recipe, all the way through to what you purchase in the store, one pound of mushrooms generates just 0.7 pounds of CO2 equivalents. By comparison, using one gallon of fuel emits nearly 20 pounds of CO2.
  • Pennsylvania mushroom farms support more than 9,300 jobs and $313 million in compensation.
  • Pennsylvania mushroom farms contribute $1.2 billion to the local economy.