2013 Mushroom Festival gets off to rousing start

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Crowd-pleasing parade is followed by dancing in street

By Kathleen Brady SheaManaging Editor, The Times

Members of the championship KAU baseball team wave to the crowds during Friday night's 2013 Mushroom Festival Parade.

Members of the championship KAU baseball team wave to the crowds during Friday night’s 2013 Mushroom Festival Parade.

An hour before Friday night’s start of the 2013 Mushroom Festival Parade, crowds were already jockeying for position. By the time the floats, bands, antique cars, fire trucks, motorcycles, a horse, and even a pig sashayed down State Street, spectators had formed a solid line up to six people deep for blocks.

“This is always a highlight of the year,” said Don Kohler, a New Garden resident who watched the parade with two of his three children, his 10-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. He said the festival offers a great opportunity to celebrate community camaraderie as well as the mushroom industry. “This is a special event,” he said.

Indeed, the festivities were punctuated by frequent greetings as people spotted friends and neighbors. Even some of the participants stopped briefly to hug spectators they recognized.

Peeking out from his giant mushroom hat is 4-year-old Foster Myers of Kennett Square, accompanied by his father, Evan, and his sister, Lucy, 8.

Peeking out from his giant mushroom hat is 4-year-old Foster Myers of Kennett Square, accompanied by his father, Evan, and his sister, Lucy, 8.

The parade included representatives from myriad organizations, ranging from Cub Scout Pack 136 to the Kennett Senior Center to the KAU Kennett Kings, runners-up in the Little League Senior Division World Series. Interspersed among the groups were musical entertainers, including the Lincoln University Band, the Kensington String Band, and a group of Dixieland maestros from the Kennett High School Alumni Association, one of whom did double duty.

Kennett Square Borough Councilman Leon Spencer, a member of the alumni group, had to beat it back to the center of town from the end of the parade several blocks away since he was also part of the post-parade action, which featured the band Good Foot. Its mission – and one that was quickly accomplished – was getting the festival off on the right foot.

The band instantly turned the street into a dance party, energizing an already enthusiastic audience that included First Friday art strollers and al fresco diners. Belting out a tune from the Black-Eyed Peas, Spencer sang: “I got a feeling that tonight’s going to be a good, good night …” Dancers ranging in age from tots to seniors responded with a variety of creative gyrations.

Borough Councilman Leon Spencer, a member of the band Good Foot, urges the crowd to have a “good, good night” at the post-parade festivities of the Mushroom Festival.

Borough Councilman Leon Spencer, a member of the band Good Foot, urges the crowd to have a “good, good night” at the post-parade festivities of the Mushroom Festival.

Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick said that he was looking forward to the weekend and was encouraged by the forecast. “I think it’s going to be perfect weather,” he said.

The owners of La Michoacana Homemade Ice Cream hope he’s right. They’ve been busy preparing their signature mushroom ice-cream bars, 500 of them to be exact. And for those who prefer their mushrooms in dinner, not dessert, 200 three-gallons tubs of numerous other flavors will be available. “We’re ready,” said co-owner Noelia Scharon. And just in case they need more, co-owner Juvenal Gonzalez, the shop’s ice-cream maker, said he would be ready to shift into production mode.

The festival will continue on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Highlights will include an Antique and Classic Car Show on Saturday; a National Fried Mushroom Eating Championship on Saturday at 3 p.m.; a soup and wine event and Mushroom Run/Walk on Sunday; and two cooking demonstrations on Sunday at 1 and 3 p.m. by celebrity chef Carla Hall, co-host of The Chew (tickets are required and are available in advance on the website).

For more information, visit www.mushroomfestival.org.

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