40th annual Mushroom Fair set for Sunday in new location

Hosted at a new location with guest speakers

The 2014 Humboldt Bay Mycological Society Mushroom Fair was at Redwood Acres. This year the event is in Arcata. (Will Houston — The Times-Standard)
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The 40th annual Humboldt Bay Mycological Society Mushroom Fair is taking place this Sunday.

This year’s fair will have a few new twists. While previously held at Redwood Acres, this year the fair will take place at the Arcata Community Center. Joann Olson, the fair chairperson of HBMS, said the fair has outgrown its previous location, with previous attendance numbering about 1,200-1,400 people.

“It’s a beautiful venue and I’m really excited, I think the public is going to really like it,” she said. “This is gonna be a big improvement as far as the public enjoyment of it because of the larger space.”

Olson said crowds could become quite packed at previous fairs, preventing spectators from getting close up to examine specimens of fungi.

Her favorite part about the fair is “seeing all the people come and enjoy the mushrooms.”

Olson estimates about 400 different types of mushrooms will be displayed at the fair this year.

“We are truly unique and a very special place for mushrooms,” she said.

For the first time in festival history, this year will feature two guest speakers. Noah Siegel, author of “Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast,” and Else Vellinga, an expert on California fungi will give mushroom related talks during the fair. One will speak at noon, and the other at 2 p.m. — the order of the speakers was undetermined by Friday’s publishing deadline.

Vendors will be selling mushroom cultivation kits and accessories. Chadd Hyatt will be selling a mushroom cookbook he wrote titled “The Mushroom Hunter’s Kitchen.” Hyatt has been a chef and an “an obsessed mushroom hunter” for about a decade. The book is the union of his two passions.

“I try to focus on things people haven’t seen a million times before,” he said. “Some come across as weird, but I have no interest in serving food that isn’t good to eat.”

His recipes include black trumpet jam, biscuits and gravy, ice cream, and ceviche to name a few. Hyatt said his interest in mushrooms quickly bloomed into a passion.

“The more I learned about mushrooms, the more I realized how much mushrooms are this invisible partner that ties everything together in this world,” he said.

Olson said there would also be activities for kids, including a sheet of questions that can only be answered by poking around the fair. Demonstrations will also be held showing the public how to dye wool with mushrooms. She encouraged even the skeptical to swing by for a look.

“We’re here in this place that’s just fabulous for mushrooms,” she said. “How do you know you’re not a mushroom fan if you don’t come?”

If you go

What: Humboldt Bay Mycological Society Mushroom Fair

Where: Arcata Community Center, 321 Martin Luther King Parkway, Arcata

When: Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost: $5 for ages 16 and older, $1 for ages 12-16, free for ages 12 and younger

More information: http://hbmycologicalsociety.org/wp/get-involved/mushroom-fair/

Philip Santos can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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