Mushroom Festival

Harper Speck, right, and her friend Sequoia Rose, left play with balloons around the booths of the 2019 Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Festival on Sunday afternoon.

On a sunny October afternoon 15 minutes away from Eugene, adults, toddlers and people of all ages in between enjoyed a day filled with one of Oregon’s most bountiful resources: mushrooms.

The 2019 Mushroom Festival at Mount Pisgah Arboretum, co-hosted by Cascade Mycological Society and Lane Community College, brought hundreds of participants from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday October 27.

Visitors could attend the scarecrow contest and vote for their favorite, get a hay ride along the arboretum’s grassy scenic Meadow Road, watch one of the bands at the live music tent or go on a guided nature walk led by one of the event’s mushroom specialists.

Unlike last year’s event, which was rainy and overcast, the festival was full of sunshine and colorful leaves surrounding the activities.

Walking into Mushroom Fest, visitors are greeted with a homemade cider stand to watch volunteers make apple cider. Sticking cloves and cinnamon sticks into oranges and brewing it throughout the whole day, a cup of hot apple cider only fares for $2 at this event.

Volunteers fuel the majority of Mount Pisgah’s events. With the Mushroom Festival being the arboretum’s biggest fundraising event of the year, all hands were on deck.

Dozens of vendors and booths were set up for participants to walk through, including an “edible vs. poisonous mushroom” information tent, the Native Plant Society of Oregon, Willamette Resources & Education Network and Cascadia Wildlands, among others.

The main event; however, was the mushroom display in the main building.

Noah Siegel, one of the guest mycologists helping to identify mushrooms, helped set up the display among other mycologists and volunteers.

“Yesterday we did a lot of identifying everything that was brought in,” Siegel said. He estimates that the room contained about 500 different species.

Siegel has been curious about mushrooms for 30 years. He calls them “the forgotten side of nature.” Originally from the East Coast, Siegel loves Oregon for its mushroom-rich terrain.

Bruce Newhouse, co-coordinator of the display, has lived in Western Oregon for a majority of his life. Interested in nature since he was a child, Bruce found his love for mushrooms in a class at Lane Community College. He also appreciates Oregon’s wet climate, perfect for mushroom hunting.

“The climate here is variable and we have terrain that’s variable. We get mushrooms from the top of the Cascades all the way down to the coast. We can have mushrooms from zero feet elevation to 10,000 feet elevation,” Newhouse said.

After a long time planning out this year’s successful event, Newhouse was glad to see it all come together. “We worked hard, a lot of people worked hard and gathered mushrooms and got them on display and now a lot of people get to enjoy that.”