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Telluride Mushroom Festival: Celebrating all things Funghi


I have been hiking on numerous occasions and spied some beautiful mushrooms off the trail and thought to myself “I would have an amazing dinner tonight if only I knew more about mushrooms and how to identify which types are edible."

I can stop wishing and start picking thanks to all the knowledge I will gain at The Telluride Mushroom Festival, this weekend August 15-19.  

The 33rd Telluride Mushroom Festival celebrates the many uses of fungi (all things mycological).  Fungi serve many purposes--from breaking down plant cellulose in nature to create nutrients for plants, to serving as food and medicine for people, to acting as bio-remediators to filter and break down toxic land like oil spills and agricultural run off. This year's theme is "Mushroom Science."  Go on a guided mushroom foray.  Analyze fungal DNA. Sample culinary delicacies from celebrity chefs. Engage world authorities on topics from ethnomycology to medicine to remediation. 

The lobby of the Palm Theater will be transformed into a Science Center and vendor fair where you can sample snack foods, coffees, teas and health supplements made of mushrooms as well as meet scientists who are extracting DNA from fungi. This free, public area will also feature make-your-own oyster mushroom growing kits for children (while supplies last).  

Join foraging experts, including Lincoff, John Sir Jesse, Bill and Will Adams, Larry Evans, Lawrence Millman, Noah Siegel, and Katrina Blair for edible harvesting and ID tours of varying lengths and focuses. There are many forays available each day to choose from.  

Experts will be on hand to offer tips on how to prepare your bounty. After each foray, visit the free public cooking station in Elks Park, where experts are standing by to offer prep advice and show you how to cook your finds. Butter, spices, clean cutting boards, and knives are maintained there for your use. 

Elks Park will also serve as Telluride Mushroom Festival’s DNA lab, where bits of mushroom tissue will be slammed between specially treated sheets of filter paper to preserve the fungal DNA so they can be analyzed and identified. With hundreds of people collecting mushrooms in the woods, this is an opportunity to take advantage of our many Citizen Scientists who collect mushrooms that are undescribed or new to science.  

Sample a variety of mushrooms on Saturday, August 16 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Mushroom Cookoff where renowned chefs compete to win. The Cookoff takes place on South Pine, between the Library and Smuggler’s Brew Pub (street closure). This  family event features entertainment and vendor booths, but the stars of the show are the mushrooms themselves as they sizzle and pop with flavor. Some of the plated presentations by the chefs resemble little gnome gardens and feature mushroom-themed decorations to garner audience favor and votes.  All attendees of the Telluride Mushroom Festival get a ticket to the Cookoff with their pass. Members of the public can also acquire Cookoff tickets for only a $7 donation, while supplies last. 

For a complete schedule of events or to purchase tickets for the Mushroom Festival, click here.

It’s time to forage for some funghi. Enjoy the bounty.

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