KENNETT SQUARE — After a scaled-down event last year and a canceled one in 2020, the Mushroom Festival is set to return in all its glory and splendor this weekend.
“There will be mushrooms, mushrooms, and more mushrooms — in all varieties, forms, and styles,” said Gina Puoci, Mushroom Festival board president.
The 37th annual event returns this year to State Street, the vortex of the borough’s engaging uptown, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, September 10, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, September 11.
Sunday also marks the 21st anniversary of 9/11.
“To date — over the past three decades — the Mushroom Festival has awarded $1 million in community grants,” said Mushroom Festival Coordinator Gale Ferranto of Buona Foods.
“We’re so happy to be back on State Street this year, to showcase not only mushrooms but the community that helped make Kennett Square the Mushroom Capital of the World. While the Mushroom Festival occurs two days each September, the impact of the festival lasts all year. Proceeds from the festival are given back to the community through grants to non-profit organizations,” Ferranto said.
“We are very excited for this year’s festival. Our theme is Growing Strong, a nod to the health benefits of mushrooms but also the festival,” she added.
The first Mushroom Festival took place in 1985. With the exception of 2020, the event has been held annually ever since. Although there was no weekend event in 2020, grant funds were raised for the community nevertheless.
Puoci, the Mushroom Festival board president, said the 37th annual event will include artisan vendors with crafts, creations, and culinary delights for folks to enjoy.
“This year will feature the favorites you’ve come to love from past festivals and some new surprises,” said Puoci.
Thousands of people are expected to attend.
Back this year is the ever-popular Fried Mushroom Eating Contest — which dares the question to participants, “How many fried mushrooms can you eat in 8 minutes?” 92.5 WXTU-FM morning DJ Jeff Kurkjian will MC the contest.
Puoci said there will be a new cooking competition, Chopped, based on the popular TV cooking show both for adults and juniors.
On Sunday, 6 ABC’s Gina Gannon will host the Junior Chopped Competition.
Further, there will be cooking demos highlighting the powerful health benefits of mushrooms, the popular mushroom growers tent where festival-goers can see up close how mushrooms grow, live music and plenty of kids’ activities, Puoci said.
There will be an antique car show — on Saturday only, she noted.
There are 185 vendors taking part. To keep up-to-date on all the details and special alerts during the event, there’s an all-new Mushroom Festival app available for people to download onto their phones.
Chris Barber — 21st Century Media
Visitors at the Mushroom Festival check out the decorated ceramic mushrooms and later vote on their favorites. (FILE PHOT)
“After two years, we are returning the festival back to the center of town on State Street,” said Mayor Matt Fetick on Monday. “We will be back to all of the great things that the festival is known for — this is such a popular event and we can’t wait to welcome visitors back to Kennett Square.”
The mayor said folks can best enjoy the event by coming prepared to leisurely stroll throughout the festival. Sometimes folks just walk through the main vendors on State Street and miss the opportunity to see some exhibits off of State Street.
“Take your time and explore all of the different exhibits,” Fetick said.
“The Mushroom Festival committee works incredibly hard throughout the year to ensure a successful and fun event. I really appreciate all of their time and efforts to make sure we have fun,” Fetick said.
“Kennett Square is known for the Mushroom Festival. It’s a fantastic weekend to enjoy the festival and kick off the fall season,” the borough mayor said.
“We ask that those attending the Mushroom Festival simply be aware of their surroundings,” said Chief of Police William Holdsworth of the Kennett Square Police Department.
“As everyone is enjoying and walking around the festival areas, we ask of everyone that ‘if you see something, say something.’ Anything that appears either suspicious or concerning to you, please report it by calling 911. We need the public to proactively work together with the Police Department so we can keep everyone safe and enjoy our community events together,” the chief said.
“The Mushroom Festival can best be enjoyed by taking your time and being courteous to all those in attendance. Plan your visit accordingly by expecting delays due to increased traffic volume and utilize a designated parking area for the event,” Holdsworth said.
The municipality will offer parking for a fee in the borough parking garage at 100 E. Linden St., the chief said.
Further, Holdsworth added, the Mushroom Festival organizers have reserved additional parking with a shuttle service for a $5 donation at Chatham Financial, 235 White Horse Lane; Kennett High School, 100 E. South St.; and at the new headquarters of the Borough of Kennett Square, 600 S. Broad St.
“If choosing to find and use street parking around town, please park legally and do not obstruct intersecting roadways or park on private property without permission,” Holdsworth stated.
Police officers will patrol throughout the event, some in uniform and some in plain clothes, the chief added.
“First Aid and Public Safety stations will be located at the intersections of State and Union as well as W. State Street and Meredith Street. Safety is our top priority, and we will be working with our local partners of fire and EMS to achieve that goal,” Holdsworth said.
Vendors will be set up along State Street from Willow Street to Lafayette Street for pedestrians only. Tickets are $5 per person for entry into the festival.
“The Kennett Square Police Department is happy to see the Mushroom Festival return to State Street,” the chief said. “We look forward to a safe and wonderful event for all to enjoy.”