If you’re an avid mycophile, you may be interested in attending mushroom festivals. These festivals are usually jam-packed with expert seminars, wild mushroom displays, mushroom-themed cuisine, live music, camping, and foraging.
In this guide, we’ll discover five mushroom-hunting festivals around the world.
Read on to learn more!
1. Mushroom Hunting Festivals: National Morel Mushroom Festival in Boyne City, Michigan
For the past 64 years, mushroom hunters, mycologists, chefs, and other mycophiles have gathered each spring in Boyne City, Michigan, to forage for and celebrate the magnificent morel. Nestled in the woods of northern Michigan along Lake Charlevoix, the weekend-long festival hosts a morel hunt, tastings, talks from mycologists, a concert, arts and crafts, a mushroom-themed carnival, recipe-sharing, and more! The National Morel Mushroom Festival is typically held the third weekend in May. In some years, lucky and knowledgeable foragers can find hundreds of prized morels in the woods surrounding the festival.
In this region, morels generally fruit from late May until mid-June. Some foragers find them as early as late April. There are three main species of morels that most abundantly occur in Northern Michigan- the yellow morel (Morchella americana), the black morel (Morchella septentrionalis), and the half-free morel (Morchella punctipes).
2. Annual Wild Mushroom Festival in Cuajilmoloyas, Oaxaca, Mexico
In the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca, a region characterized by lush cloud-forested mountains and scrublands, the village of Cuajilmoloyas sits at about 10,500 feet in elevation. This mountain village hosts an annual wild mushroom festival named “Feria Regional de Hongos Silvestes.” It typically occurs over a weekend in late July or August following a period of rain. The exact date varies from year to year, depending on the weather.
On the first day of the festival, groups hike through the stunning forests and meadowy area for five or more hours, filling their baskets with over 100 species of mushrooms. On the second day, expert mycologists categorize the findings according to the edibility, toxicity, and psychoactivity. The experts then present information on the various species.
Throughout the afternoon of the second day, festival participants can sample the foraged edible mushrooms, attend seminars, and visit wild mushroom displays. Local vendors assemble to sell a range of dishes packed with mushrooms. Travelers from out-of-country typically arrive at this mushroom festival by booking ecotours.
3. Mushrooms Hunting Festivals: Matsutake Mushroom Festival in Bhutan
Every year in August, the small Himalayan country of Bhutan celebrates a mushroom festival in two villages. Typically held during the second week of August, the village of Genekha in Thimphu hosts a festival celebrating the wild mushrooms that grow in the region, especially chanterelles (Cantharellus spp.) and the highly prized matsutake (Tricholoma matsutake). In the village of Ura in Bumthang, locals host a mushroom festival toward the end of August, with a special emphasis on matsutake.
In Bhutan, Tricholoma matsutake is primarily associated with pine and oak trees and is known as Sangay Shamu. Fruiting times for matsutake in Bhutan occur from July through mid-September. For local foragers who depend on harvesting and selling matsutake for a living, this period can account for up to 40% of their annual income.
These festivals highlight the importance of sustainable mushroom foraging for local communities in Bhutan. They also showcase valued cultural dances and performances.
4. Truffle Festival in Lalbenque, France
This festival is held annually on the last weekend of January in the village of Lalbenque in southwestern France. The Truffle Festival offers two days of culinary workshops, local and regional produce markets, mycology seminars, truffle and champagne tasting, and a truffle hunting competition. Truffle hunters, with their specially trained truffle-hunting hounds, come from all over France to participate.
In France, attendees call this truffle-crazed festival the “Fête de la Truffe.” In this region, hunters especially hone in on finding the French black truffle (Tuber melanosporum). For a week during mid-winter in Lalbenque, the streets fill with truffle connoisseurs. They line up around scales and sellers clutching baskets full of the French black diamonds, haggling for the best deal.
5. Mushroom Hunting Festivals: Fungi Festival in Sicamous, British Columbia
For about 20 years, the mountainous, river-side town of Sicamous, British Columbia, has hosted an annual fungi festival. The three-day Fungi Festival occurring in September includes a variety of activities. Participants can enjoy foraging, educational nature walks, mushroom displays, expert presentations, mushroom tastings and gourmet food vendors, a farmer’s market, campfires, and live music. The non-profit organization Sicamous Fungi Festival Society organizes this yearly mushroom-centered event.
For foragers who attend this early fall festival, some of the regional species one can find in the surrounding forests include chanterelles, lobster fungi (Hypomyces lactifluorum), the common honey mushroom (Armillaria mellea), and chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus and possibly other species within the genus).
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Grusho Anna/Shutterstock.com
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