Brookings will be crawling with fungiphiles Nov. 3-4, as the Wild Rivers Mushroom Festival brings to town the second-annual celebration of all things mushroom.
If it’s anything like last year’s, the fungi-fest this weekend is bound to be huge, said organizer Kathleen Dickson.
“Because they had so many people that first year come to learn about and celebrate the region’s wild mushrooms, the club decided it better expand the 2018 festival into two days,” Dickson said. “Everyone wants to know more about wild mushrooms.”
The event is tucked between the Yachats Mushroom Festival in October and the Humboldt Mushroom Fair the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and is scheduled in hopes of hitting the peak of the wild-mushroom season on the Southern Oregon Coast, usually the first weekend in November.
Dickson said she remembers the day when she knew nothing about wild mushrooms.
“When I moved here 16 years ago, I’d never heard of a chanterelle, and now I’m giving talks and doing a festival,” she said. “I had no clue there was such a thing as wild mushrooms to eat in the forest, and then I discovered there were thousands of mushrooms in the the forest, and then that there’s probably thousands more we don’t even know about. There’s this world out there in our forest, accessible to everyone — and it’s so much fun.”
Featured throughout the two days of discussions and lectures will be mushroom art, mushroom food, mushroom medicine, clothing, compost, beer and mushrooms themselves.
The festival is the brainchild of the Wild Rivers Mushroom Club (WRMC), a nonprofit group in Brookings made up of amateur mushroom lovers from throughout Curry and Del Norte counties, Dickson said.
The event will feature an an identification table with examples of the region’s edible and non-edible fungi, vendors selling all manner of fungi-related products, and workshops throughout both days, including presentations on identifying, growing, harvesting and using wild and cultivated mushrooms. Door prizes and silent auctions will be held throughout the weekend. For a complete list of prizes, visit https://wildriversmushroom.wixsite.com/wrshroomfest-2018
Educational mushroom hikes along various coastal trails will be held as will presentations from fungi experts Dr. Christopher Hobbs and renowned mycologist Dr. Dennis Desjardin — back by popular demand, Dickson said.
Desjardin is Saturday’s keynote speaker and will discuss, “Fungi and Human Affairs: How we interact with fungi in our daily lives,” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Desjardin, a Crescent City native, is professor of biology at San Francisco State University who has been collecting and studying California mushrooms for more than 60 years. He is a Fellow of the Mycological Society of America and a the California Academy of Sciences, has published more than 140 scientific papers on the taxonomy and evolution of mushroom-forming fungi, and has described 225 new species and seven new genera.
He has active research projects in Hawaii, Micronesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, and the African islands of São Tomé and Príncipe. A recent interest of his is in the origin and evolution of bioluminescent fungi.
Hobbs is Sunday’s keynote speaker, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and will discuss “Medicinal Mushrooms: a Comprehensive Class for Newbies and Experts Alike.
Hobbs is a fourth-generation, internationally renowned herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, author, clinician, botanist, mycologist and research scientist with more than 35 years of experience with herbal medicine. He has authored numerous books, including the 1995 classic, “Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing, & Culture.” He has a doctorate from UC Berkeley in phylogenetics, evolutionary biology and phytochemistry, and is a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild.
Saturday workshops will run the gamut and start with John Nesbit’s “Ganoderma applanatum: The red mother Reishi, medicine of the Ancients,” Micha Gross’ “Homesteading with Fungi,” and Dickson’s “Can I Eat That?”
Nesbit is a member of the Wild Rivers Mushroom Club whose interest in medicinal plants and fungi began in 1974, when Alice Wilder of the old Wilder Ranch north of Santa Cruz, California, showed him how to identify and use many local plants and fungi.
His favorite, G. applanatum is treasured throughout the world for its medicinal properties; Nesbit will show workshop participants where to find them and how to make extracts.
Gross is a permaculture farmer who has integrated fungi into her Myrtle Glen Farm, a 27-acre homestead on the Southern Oregon Coast Range. She is an amateur mycologist and botanist who has leads workshops addressing cultivation, foraging, identification, culinary instruction and biology of fungi in the wild and the farm.
On her farm, she is currently inoculating vegetables with a mycorrhizal fungi in hopes of increasing crop yields, water-holding potential, mineral uptake, disease resistance and soil fertility.
Dickson, the founder of the Wild Rivers Mushroom Club of Brookings, has been a wild mushroom lover since moving to the Oregon coast in 2002. She was introduced to edible wild mushrooms through friendships she forged with local mushroom harvesters, first learning how to identify and pick edible coastal mushrooms, them immersing herself in the commercial mushroom industry.
She and her husband, Rich, own OtterBee’s Market, an e-commerce website whose focus is local food in and around Curry County.
An educational hike — limited to 12 people — begins at noon at Indian Sands, while a slideshow “Mushrooms of the Oregon Dunes” will be presented by Anna Moore, a Florence resident and avid mushroom forager. She retired from UC Berkeley and moved to Oregon in 2005, but her interest in mushrooms began in the 1980’s in the Sierras.
The event culminates Sunday with a workshop with Jaime Yarbrough called “Tips on Cooking with Wild Mushrooms: proper identification, simple recipes and dry sauteing”; another trek to Indian Sands at 11 a.m.
Yarbrough is an amateur, self-taught mycologist and president of the Del Norte and Wild Rivers mushroom clubs with a treasure trove of knowledge and experience.
Afternoon workshops will include “Tips on Dehydrating Mushrooms” by Linda Correia, followed by Laura Morgan’s Introduction to Fungi.
Correia is a Master Food Preserver through the OSU Extension office and an expert on dehydration. She’ll display the latest methods and equipment for drying fruit, vegetables and mushrooms and how to store them for optimal quality.
Morgan holds degrees in botany and biology from Humboldt State University, has worked many seasons at Redwood National Park and is now a teacher at College of the Redwoods in Crescent City, where she is teaching Del Norte’s first 3-unit transferable-credit course on fungi.
The kitchen and a microbrew beer cart from Chetco Brewing Co. will be open throughout the event.
The final raffle drawing will take place starting at 3:15 p.m.
The festival is supported by Travel Oregon, Oregon Coast Visitors Association and the City of Brookings. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Wild Rivers Mushroom Club Facebook page.