Calling all mushroom lovers: the 26th annual Kennett Square Mushroom Festival returns this weekend, September 9-11, with three days of live entertainment, mushroom farm tours, a mushroom soup cook-off, live cooking demos by top chefs like Jose Garces and Kevin Sbraga, silent auction of painted 3-foot concrete mushrooms crafted by local artists, old-fashioned carnival, kids’ fun and mushrooms galore to taste.
It all begins with a rousing community parade this Friday, September 9 at 6 p.m. For the 2011 Community Parade, festivalgoers will come together to celebrate the resiliency of community and honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks as the 10th anniversary of this event approaches. There will be floats, marching bands, a special flag raising and more.
Sound overwhelming? We’ve got an in-depth guide to the festival so you’ll be well-equipped for your celebration of the humble fungi:
Dates and Times
Friday, September 9: Community Parade kicks off at South and Broad, 6 p.m.
Saturday, September 10: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, September 11: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
• Mushroom Soup Cook-Off: Saturday, September 10, 4 p.m. Watch six contestants prepare their version of mushroom soup and see which one takes the prize as the Best Mushroom Soup of 2011. Contestants have one hour to prepare their soup. Judging begins at 5 p.m.
• Soup and Wine Event: Sunday, September 11, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sample mushroom soups from around the region. It’s your vote that determines the winner of the Best Mushroom Soup in the Delaware Valley! Sip wine as you sample, too: new for 2011, you can vote for your favorite red and white wines. The festival will be naming the Best Red Wine of the Mushroom Festival and the Best White Wine of the Mushroom Festival. $15 includes wine tasting tickets and samples of soups, or you can get $10 tickets for soup-only sampling.
• Culinary Tent Demos: Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Watch guest chefs cook up a mushroom frenzy: Iron Chef Jose Garces (for ticket info, see below), Top Chef Season 7 winner Kevin Sbraga, Back Burner Executive Chef Kristin McGuigan, Chef Stephen Latona of The Restaurant School of Philadelphia, Cynthia Goch of GochYa Cooking and Jennifer Behm of Wilmington, winner of Season 2 of MasterChef. Schedule online.
Other Mushroom Fun
• Street Festival: Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. More than 170 vendors from around the nation will line the streets with arts, crafts, food and more. Restaurants in the downtown area will be dishing up their mushroom specialty dishes. The fair spans from Willow to Garfield Streets (see map below).
• Mushroom Growers Exhibit: Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Walk your way through the mushroom growing exhibit to see how white button, shiitake, maitake, oyster and royal trumpet mushrooms grow.
• Farm Tours: Only once a year does the public get the opportunity to tour a working mushroom farm. The tours are offered Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 pm and Sunday, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Meet, and get tickets, at the corner of N. Union Street and Linden Street.
• Mushroom Run/Walk: A 5K Run or a 2K Walk is a great way to start your day. On Sunday, September 11 join the fun(gi) crowd for the annual Mushroom Run/Walk. Registration begins at 7 a.m. Race starts at 8:30 a.m. Register online.
• Painted Mushroom Silent Auction: The 2011 Painted Mushroom artists have been really busy this summer creating beautiful, one-of-a-kind garden stools. They will be on display during the Mushroom Festival near the corner of Broad and E. State Street. Check them out online in advance.
More information, including a full festival map, below.
Kennett Square Mushroom Festival
When: September 9-11
Where: 14 W. State Street, Kennett Square
Cost: $2 (ages 12 and up)
More info: www.mushroomfestival.org
• Oldies 98 Dance Party: Friday, September 9, 8-11 p.m. The Oldies 98 Dance Party is returning to kick off the festival. Turn back the clock and dance to the sounds of the 60s, 70s, and 80s as Philadelphia’s WOGL “Oldies 98” Music Director Tommy McCarthy spins the tunes. Food, wine and beer will be available for purchase, and tickets are $5 at the door.
• Live Music on Del’s Stage: Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sit under the sycamore trees on Center Street and enjoy some of the region’s finest musicians and greatest bands, from local singer/songwriter Bill Rose to Neil Young tribute band RUST. The full music schedule is online.
The Children’s Stage at Union and Cypress Streets features some of the region’s best children’s entertainers, including Dan & Galla’s Musical Show and The Magic of Matt Cadabra, on Saturday and Sunday. The full schedule is available online.
In addition, the Old Fashioned Carnival, at Genesis Parking Lot on the corner of South Union and South Streets, with an entrance on Broad Street, lets kids (and you) enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and thrills of the Midway with rides, games and carnival foods. It runs Friday, 6-11 p.m.. Saturday, 3-11 p.m. and Sunday, 1-6 p.m.
Admission is $2 per person (kids under 12 free), and proceeds go towards the Mushroom Festival’s grant program.
Wristbands may be purchased in advance at The Mushroom Cap (114 W. State Street, Kennett Square), at the Mushroom Festival parking lots (while waiting for the shuttle buses) or at the entrances to the festival.
Last year the Mushroom Festival gave $70,000 to 31 non-profit organizations!
The only further ticketed events are Jose Garces’ cooking demonstration and book signing on Saturday, September 10 at 1:30 p.m. in the Special Events Tent (Willow and State streets), for which print-at-home advance tickets ($20) are available, and highly recommended; as well as the Soup and Wine Event you pay at the door for (see above).
Timed tickets are also sold for the mushroom farm tours on Saturday ans Sunday, at the corner of N. Union and Linden streets.
How To Get There
Directions to Kennett Square from all areas are available online. Parking (there are three lots) is $5 and includes free shuttle bus to the Street Fair. Lawn signs direct visitors to the parking lots as they near town.
And all of that? That’s not all. There’s also a slew of non-mushroom related events, including an Antique and Classic Car Show, with 40 beautifully restored and unique cars lining Broad Street on Saturday, and Stanley Steamers display; plus, the Steam Team from Auburn Heights Preserve in Yorklyn, Delaware is driving a few of their original steam-powered cars to the festival for you to check out on both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., with a special firing up demo both days at 1 p.m.
In addition, check out the Remote Control Air Show Sunday at 10 a.m. when the best of the best in model aeronautics take flight on the front lawn of Kennett High School (enter from S. Union Street).
Mushroom lovers across the nation will converge once again in historic Kennett Square, the “Mushroom Capital of the World,” this weekend, and we just can’t wait. Check out a helpful map of the festival grounds, below.