On October 28, Mount Pisgah Arboretum hosted its 38th annual Mushroom Festival, an event that showcases over 300 species of mushrooms that grow all over the state of Oregon. Featuring activities like fresh-pressed apple cider sampling, guided nature walks by local naturalists and live music all day, it has become the Arboretum's biggest - and most feasted - fundraiser.
“The mushroom festival consistently sees over 4,000 visitors, rain or shine. It’s definitely become and grown into one of the signature local festivals,” said Laurie Trieger, the Development Director of Mount Pisgah Arboretum. The proceeds raised will go towards nature education for kids, community outreach programs, education on natural habitats and more.
With seven food and three beverage vendors, this is where the real fun was had — drinks were drank and delicacies were eaten. In spirit of the festival, each food vendor is required to feature at least one mushroom dish.
One of the most notable items was the Holy Cow’s mushroom soup. “There are folks who come to the festival just to get their soup,” said Brad van Appel, the Mount Pisgah Arboretum executive director. Having closed their vegetarian restaurant several years ago, the previous owners make a yearly cameo appearance at the Mushroom Festival specifically to showcase the dish.
The mushroom ragout made from the Lane Community College Culinary School is another fan favorite that returns every year. If you became inspired by the gastronomic and scientific capabilities of mushrooms at the event, kits (also known as logs with mushroom spores attached) are also available for purchase.
The local refreshment vendors were there to help compliment and wash down the delicious meals! The cider booth, featuring fresh-pressed apple cider made on-site, was definitely a main attraction - including free sampling for your taste buds’ pleasure. Sourced from nearby orchards, the apples’ flavors reflected the crispness of the Eugene autumn air.
Another stimulating elements of the festival were the approximately 20 nonprofit tables to help raise awareness about other ecological efforts occuring in the area. Arts, crafts and goods vendors were also selling a variety of pieces like aromatic soaps in the shape of Oregon and handmade ceramics.
In partnership with the Cascade Mycological Society and Lane Community College, the Arboretum also hosted mycologists Steve Trudell and Noah Siegel to speak about the strong mushroom culture in Oregon. Trudell, a professor at the University of Washington and author of Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest, specializes in understanding the reason for such a lush diversity of mushrooms-fungi and how they play into forest carbon and nutrient cycling. Siegel covers the coastal Northern California territory in his book Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast, a guide to over 750 species that thrive in the area.
“Our goal for this festival really is to get the community out onto the site to see it and appreciate it,” said Laurie Trieger, Mount Pisgah Arboretum Development Director. The Mushroom Festival is one of those events where you are reminded just how proud you are to live in a place that cultivates so much passion and creativity inspired from the beautiful natural (and sometimes edible) surroundings.
The Mount Pisgah Arboretum offers 209 acres and seven miles of trails that venture into several types of ecosystems. If you missed it but are interested in similar events, do not fret! The organization hosts a wildflower festival every spring which features activities like art and nature contests and guided trail walks. If the food is your focal point, Lane Community College’s Culinary School hosts themed dinners and other gastronomical events throughout the year. Bon appetit!