Get set to explore the mystical and magical world of mushrooms during the Fungi Festival hosted by the Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory and the Central Oregon Mushroom Club on Saturday, Oct. 8. There will be walks and talks, a mushroom ID station staffed by members of the Cascade Mycological Society, children's activities and a mushroom display with different species of wild fungi labeled for viewing.
"This is our 6th annual Fungi and Mushroom fest in cooperation with the Central Oregon Mushroom Club and is just a celebration of all things mushroom," said Kelli Neumann, SNCO program director. "Mushroom people are a kick. They are my new favorite people. They are just so into understanding these crazy diverse organisms that exist in our forests."
Additional activities include cooking demos and a mushroom marketplace with vendors that will send you home prepped to grow your own edible mushrooms or ready to serve up some delicious fungi (see the website for some vendors accepting pre-orders for pick-up at the marketplace). For those who can't wait, the Feast Food Company food truck will be serving up a mushroom-forward menu.
"We are doing all these field trips to collect specimens for the display," said Linda Gilpin, COMC president. "The number of specimens for the display is partially weather-dependent, especially if the weather has been dry." Interested individuals should register with SNCO for one of the two Mushroom Foraging Field Trips on Friday, Oct. 7; space is limited to 12 people per trip. "We'll also cover responsible harvesting tips on the field trip," said Neumann.
Gilpin recommends that prior to the field trip, people check their yard or park and try to identify the mushrooms on their own. "Part of the invitation to the public is to learn how to look at mushrooms to identify them," said Gilpin.
In addition to the field trips, Sunriver Lodge's Executive Chef Joshua Hedrick will prepare a four-course dinner that features delicious mushrooms. Tickets for the 6pm dinner may also be purchased from the resort.
Rob Glenney, Deschutes Gourmet Mushrooms owner, will host a session during the festival on growing gourmet mushrooms at home. "Mainly, it's going to be on oyster mushrooms because those are the most commonly grown, novice mushrooms. They're easy to grow, very productive and taste great," said Glenney. In addition to the indoor variety, Glenney will talk about growing mushrooms outdoors. "That variety would be wine cap mushrooms, and those are good because folks can grow those here in Central Oregon." Glenney will also bring several hundred pounds of mushrooms to the marketplace including several varieties of oyster mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, lion's manes and King trumpets, as well as ready-to-fruit blocks which sell out quickly.
At 1:30 pm, Dr. Gurpreet Chopra, a psychiatrist from Bend, and J.E. "Jeff" Hyatt will present "Psilocybin Therapy," a discussion of psilocybin chemistry, a review of academic psychedelic science, and the present-day inclusion of psychedelics as possible treatments in therapy, and as a benefit to those diagnosed with end-stage cancer. The presentation is timely as Measure 109, the ballot measure that passed in 2020, is in the developmental stages for creating a framework of psilocybin services.
"Ariel Cowan from Oregon State Extension Service will be there with her microscope so you can really look at things, like spores, which are helpful for identification," said Gilpin. Cowan will give a presentation at 2:30pm about spores, the reproductive unit of a mushroom.
In 2021, the festival attracted over 900 visitors and some of the vendors sold out their stock. Since parking is very limited at SNCO, there will be a shuttle from the Sunriver Marina to reduce parking along the road. "The parking area is about one-half mile from the Nature Center and we'll have a shuttle going back and forth all day," said Neumann. Attendees might also consider parking in the Sunriver Village or other public parking areas and access the Nature Center via the biking and walking trails.
"The festival covers any interest people have in mushrooms, from cultivating mushrooms to identifying wild mushrooms," Glenney. "No matter what it is you like about mushrooms, you're going to get it covered there."