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The Mushroom Festival: Spores and More at this Northeast Staple

From gourmet restaurants to historical landmarks, Kennett Square has everything you’ll need for your next great Pennsylvania getaway. The Mushroom Capital of the World offers attractions for the entire family including Longwood Gardens, which is one of the leading botanical gardens in America. No trip to the area is complete without visiting Main Street, featuring charming shops, farm-to-table eateries, and plenty of historic buildings.


The Mushroom Festival is one of America’s largest mushroom-themed events, and will take place September 9-10, in Downtown Kennett Square. This year’s event will feature more than 250 vendors selling everything from art and crafts to meals and artisan foods. Attendees can watch cooking contestants from across America compete in the Amatuer Mushroom Cook Off, and a classic car show will showcase a variety of classic and antique automobiles. Live performers from around the region will play live music on the main entertainment stage, and rides and entertainment for kids will be available at the Old Fashioned Carnival. Patrons should check out the Culinary Tent featuring local and regional chefs teaching people about mushrooms and unique ways to cook them. The event donates a portion of proceeds (via grants) each year to a variety of local nonprofits like the ALS Association, YMCA, Avondale Fire Co., and more. got the chance to interview Carla Lucas, Board Member and PR Coordinator for the event, to learn more about this mushroom-themed celebration.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

CL: This is the 32nd year.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

CL: We expect between 80,000 and 100,000 people.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

CL: We are a family-friendly event. We like to say there’s something for everyone from the very young to the elderly.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

CL: It’s a celebration of mushrooms! Kennett Square is the Mushroom Capital of the World with over 65% of the US production of commercial mushrooms occurring in the region around Kennett Square.


RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.

CL: We have a Street Fair with nearly 250 craft and food vendors. The Growers’ Exhibit features area farmers explaining the Mushroom Growing process. In the Culinary Tent, local and regional chefs prepare mushroom dishes and offer recipes and tips for cooking with mushrooms. Attendees can also purchase the freshest mushrooms directly from local farms at the Mushroom Sales Tents. Don’t miss an opportunity to meet Fun Gus (an eight-foot tall and wide furry friend with an enormous red cap)! Saturday features the Amateur Mushroom Cook-Off, the National Fried Mushroom Eating Championship, and the Antique and Classic Car Show. Sunday features the Soup and Wine Event and the Mushroom Run and Fun Walk. There’s more on our website.   


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?

CL: The James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project is our feature on Saturday. Sunday’s special guest in the Culinary Tent includes Barry Crumlich, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolff’s Executive Chef.


RAL: What will guests find for dining options?

CL: You can find all kinds of mushroom foods from Portabella Cheesesteaks to mushroom ice cream (the frozen chunks of mushrooms tastes like nuts).


RAL: What is the overall environment like?

CL: Our event is family friendly. Kennett Square provides an excellent example of small town America.


RAL: Our travelers seek out unique and boutique accommodations, where can they find these in your area?

CL: Kennett Square is in the heart of the rolling hills of Chester County farm/horse country. There are a variety of Bed and Breakfasts in Kennett Square (walking distance to the Festival) and throughout the region.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

CL: The entire community supports and attends the Mushroom Festival weekend.    


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

CL: Yes, our Borough’s stores and restaurants all participate in the event, and it is one of their biggest weekends of the year.


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

CL: The profits from the event go to non-profits in the community in the form of grants. Since 2000, we have given $886,000 back to local non-profits, in fact, last year 50 organizations received a total of $86,100 in grants.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

CL: It’s a fun family celebration of the mushroom with plenty of friendly people. The food choices are great, and the shopping features unique products from across the county.  It's an easy going and pleasant way to spend a day. Where else can you have Fun(gi) for all!

For more information about The Mushroom Festival, please visit the event website.