Nakusp put the fun back in fungi on Oct. 15 as residents took to the street in front of the Old Fire Hall for the first annual Mushroom Festival.
Part of 5th Ave. NW was closed off for the event, which featured a variety of tents for businesses and chefs giving out samples and providing demonstrations.
Jan and Dan’s Mushroom Station provided information on mushrooms in the area, and sold several books on mushrooms and picking. One of their tables was recreated to look like a forest floor covered in moss, showing what the mushrooms would look like in their natural setting.
Several varieties of mushrooms grow in the area, and every year mushroom pickers from all over come to Nakusp to see what they can find. This time of year, chanterelles, pine, and lobster mushrooms are in season.
Chanterelles proved to be a popular one with chef Tyler Leeson, who provided several mushroom themed foods, including a chanterelle bruschetta, chanterelle soup, mini quiche with mushrooms and goat cheese, and a triple mushroom pizza.
Leeson has been a fan of fungi for a while.
“I always thought there should be a mushroom festival here,” he said. “It was a little more work than I was willing to take on, so I was happy to hear that somebody was doing something.”
The festival wasn’t just limited to the Old Fire Hall. What’s Brewing on Broadway offered a selection of specialty gingerbread or pumpkin lattes, while Shon’s Bike and Ski Shop offered mushroom and Swiss paninis from their eatery.
Even Selkirk College got involved, with mushroom afficianados Tyson Ehlers and Doug McBride offering a course on wild mushroom picking.
“Every year there is more and more interest, and we’re doing our part to educate the public about which mushrooms are good to eat, and encourage people to go out there and find them, and be respectful of the environment that they find them in,” said Ehlers.
The pair give a slideshow presentation with examples of the wild mushrooms on display in the room. After lunch the group went out and foraged, identifying the mushrooms they learned about during the presentation.
Though no planning has started for next year’s festival, Barbara Ross, one of the organizers, does have some ideas in mind for improvements.
“It’s not just mushrooms that grow in our woods that we could celebrate in Nakusp,” she said. “There is somebody who does some incredible wood carvings, and that would be kind of neat to see how he carves. There are lots of pieces that we could add that could make it more interesting.”