26th Annual Mushroom Fest a hit

Kennett Square’s chief display of civic pride continued in its grand tradition with drawing healthy turnout

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

Crowds thronged the Mushroom Festival, enjoy the tastes and thrills of seeing famous TV chefs.

KENNETT SQUARE—The humidity from the last remnants of summer wasn’t enough to stop droves of patrons from crowding onto State Street for the most celebrated fungus-oriented festival in the world.

“We’re absolutely satisfied with the turnout,” said Mushroom Festival coordinator Kathi Lafferty, “Our vendors are happy. Some of them even ran out of food the other day.”

Of the 228 vendors that lined the streets of the festival, it’s no surprise that food merchants were the most popular. Concession tents offered a wide variety of mushroom cuisine such as grilled portabellas, sumptuous stuffed mushrooms, and mushroom eggrolls to more standard carnival fare such as pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, and lemonade.

Visitors also had the exclusive, once-a-year opportunity to embark on a tour of a working mushroom farm. Patrons boarded buses and were taken to one of the local farms where the mushroom growers took them through their growing process.

Mushrooms, as usual, were front and center at the 26th Annual Mushroom Festival.

Stages of mushroom growth and cultivation were also on display throughout the festival itself in a large pavilion. Mushroom experts were on hand to answer and queries related to fungi.

But the biggest draw of this year’s fest was its newest feature.

“The highlight of this year’s event was having the Triple Crown of culinary experts; Iron Chef Jose Garces, Master Chef Jenny Behm, and Top Chef Kevin Spraga,” Lafferty said, “They did cooking demonstrations… they also stayed and judged the amateur soup contests and gave prizes out to the winners.”

Other featured events included the famous Antique and Classic Car Show, the Amateur Mushroom Soup Cook-off, 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.

With warm sunny weather, crowds flocked to the Mushroom Festival.

The Mushroom festival was not only a fun time for all in attendance; it also provided, as it always does, a tangible benefit for the greater community it represents.

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

This refers to the many organizations to which the festival organization contributes such as the City of Hope breast cancer research group, The Kennett Education Foundation, and the Arc of Chester County to name just a fraction of the beneficiaries.

Overall, the festival left a positive impression on many visitors including those outside of the Kennett Area.

“My Parent’s live in Kennett and they told me I just had to come out,” Media resident Jamie Scilla said, “It’s not what I was expecting; I wasn’t expecting all this stuff. I’m very impressed; I want to buy everything everywhere I go…it’s my first time here but it definitely won’t be my last”

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