Mushrooms take over Kennett Square

Bring the kids to the Mushroom Festival to meet Fun Gus (get it?).
Bring the kids to the Mushroom Festival to meet Fun Gus (get it?)

From mushroom martinis to button mushroom ice cream, an array of funky fungus options will be served up this weekend at the 28th annual Mushroom Festival.

“When it happens, it’s like a big party, and I don’t want it to end,” says Kathi Lafferty, festival coordinator.

Known as the mushroom capital of the world, Kennett Square hosts the event that will draw nearly 200 vendors. Every year, growers from the region donate a portion of their harvest to the two-day festival. Proceeds are distributed to nonprofit organizations.

“We often sell over $10,000 worth of fresh mushrooms,” says Lafferty. “It’s amazing the taste of a fresh mushroom picked that day or the day before compared to what you can get in the grocery store.”

From portabellas to chanterelles, it won’t be hard to walk home with a wide variety of soil-to-table options. It won’t be hard to fill up on them before you leave, either.

“Our most popular item for the festival has to be our portabella fries,” says Jack Mavraj, head chef and co-owner of Kennett Square restaurant La Verona. He’s also hosting a cooking demo at the festival — check out his mushroom and short rib ragu with homemade pasta.

Cooling things down a bit, Kennett Square’s La Michoacana will serve up their signature ’shroom popsicle, an item owner Noelra Scharon says sells out early every year.

“We actually started offering them a few weeks early at our restaurant because people started asking for them,” Scharon says of the vanilla ice cream and button mushroom treat.

Fill up and then head on over to watch others stuff their faces with fried mushrooms at the event’s competitive eating contest. On Saturday, competitive eaters will see if can enough fried mushrooms to beat last year’s winning total of 5 ½ pounds in seven minutes. “That’s part of the mushroom party I’d rather watch than join,” Lafferty says.

Try this
Restaurateur Aimee Olexy is somewhat of a cheese guru in the Philadelphia area. Visit any of Olexy’s ventures — Talula’s Garden and Table — for cheeses galore. For the festival, she’ll be at Talula’s Table, in Kennett Square, serving up mushroom mac ‘n’ cheese all weekend long. “It’s like this bubbly, oozy, cheesy casserole with roasted mushrooms of all sorts throughout,” Olexy says. “People go nuts for it.”

Mushroom Festival
Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Kennett Square, PA
$2, free for kids under 12
www.mushroomfestival.org


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