Mushroom Festival 2011 grows near

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The Kennett Square Mushroom Festival will be in full bloom Sept. 9-11 with old favorites and surprising new additions

By P.J. D’Annunzio, Staff Writer, UnionvilleTimes.com

Crowds throng the streets of downtown Kennett Square during the 2010 Mushroom Festival. Photo courtesy Mushroom Festival.

KENNETT SQUARE—The Mushroom Festival is just one of those things that grows on you: it’s an event that caters to all ages and walks of life and is one of Kennett’s most visible signs of civic pride, going 26 years strong.

“It’s considered the largest festival in Chester County and has been rated in the top five agricultural festivals in the nation,” Mushroom Festival Coordinator Kathi Lafferty said.

The stars of this event are, naturally, the mushrooms. Throughout the street wide event there are grower’s exhibits where the public can view mushrooms. Also the Fest offers the exclusive, once a year opportunity for the public to tour a working mushroom farm. Visitors board a bus and are taken to one of the local farms where the mushroom growers take them through their growing process.

But it doesn’t end with the tour; the fun of the Fest is only just beginning.

Starting Friday, Sept. 9, there will also be a mushroom soup tasting at the Kennett Masonic Lodge, carnival games and activities, live music on Del’s Stage, Oldies 98 Dance Party hosted by Tommy McCarthy, acts on the Children’s Stage, the Cute-as-a-Button (Mushroom) Baby Photo Contest, and the Painted Mushroom Silent Auction.

The Street Fair features nearly 200 vendors with lots of ways to enjoy mushrooms from mushroom soup to grilled portabellas, to wraps and ravioli, to mushroom ice cream, plus mushroom sculptures, mushroom jewelry, and more.

Favorite Saturday events include the Antique and Classic Car Show and the Amateur Mushroom Soup Cook-off. Iron Chef Jose Garces takes center stage in the Special Events Tent at 1:30 PM. Kristin McGuigan, of the Back Burner in Hockessin, DE kicks off cooking demonstrations at10:30 AM Saturday. The Amatuer Mushroom Soup Cook Off rounds out the culinary events at 4 PM Saturday.

“We are really excited to have the two celebrity chefs joining us this year,” Lafferty said on one of the highlights of this year’s festival. “I can’t wait to see what Iron Chef Jose Garces and Top Chef DC winner Kevin Sbraga do with mushrooms.”

Sunday is Go Pink Day at the Mushroom Festival, highlighting the mushroom’s cancer fighting/prevention qualities and supporting the continuing research at The City of Hope. Patrons are encouraged to start their Sunday morning at the Mushroom Run/Walk along the Red Clay Creek.

Later, the Soup and Wine Event takes Center Stage in the Special Events Tent as guests vote for the best mushroom soup in the region and sample a few of the area’s local wines. In the Culinary Tent join Kevin Spraga, Steve Latona (Restaurant School of Philadelphia), and Cynthia Goch as they share some tips on cooking with mushrooms.

But The Mushroom Festival doesn’t just entertain the mushroom savvy and curious soup tasters. There is also benefit that runs deeper and permeates the community as a whole.

“It benefits the community immensely by bringing tourists to Southern Chester County,” Lafferty said, “That helps out the economy of Kennett square. It also promotes what we do for giving money back to the community.”

Admission is $2 for everyone 12 and up. All proceeds benefit local and regional non-profit organizations through the Mushroom Festival Grant program. Last year 31 local organizations received $70,000 in grants to help the diverse Kennett community.

Check out the official Mushroom Festival website at www.mushroomfestival.org for an up to date listing of everything that’s happening and to purchase tickets.

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