The first annual MushrooMania festival is happening in Gibsons on Halloween weekend, Oct. 29 to 31.
The festival intends to educate, enlighten, entertain and inspire mushroom enthusiasts of all ages with a diversity of activities introducing folks to the fantastic world of fungi.
“We decided to put on a festival in Gibsons this year to build on the annual mushroom festivals traditionally hosted in Madeira Park, and to encourage more Vancouverites to come and discover the Coast,” MushrooMania organizer Joy Dutcher of Mycelyum explained. The mushroom festival group in Madeira Park recently disbanded, and the new Mushroomania Festival Society was founded by Dutcher and other local mushroom industry folks to fill in the huge gap left by its absence.
MushrooMania kicks off with a screening of the feature documentary film Dosed at the Gibsons Heritage Playhouse on Friday night. The movie explores the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, the active medicinal chemical found in “magic” mushrooms. The filmmakers will be in attendance to host a post-movie discussion.
Festival activities continue on Saturday at the Gibsons Public Market, starting with Shaggy Jack’s popular Wild Mushroom Foraging for Beginners class at 9 a.m. in the Coastal Room upstairs. The Coastal Room will also host speakers throughout the day, including workshops on mushroom cultivation with master grower Mike O’Grady, functional mushrooms with Dr. Landon McLean, and psychedelic mushrooms with Dana Larsen of the Medicinal Mushroom Dispensary in Vancouver.
While these talks are going on, festivalgoers can browse a wide range of mushroom-related local artisanal products at the Vendor Market in the Atrium, including fresh wild mushrooms and culinary products, medicinal/functional mushrooms, books, foraging supplies, mushroom art, and much more. “We want to showcase the variety of ways in which mushrooms can be useful,” Mushroomania Festival Society president Jody “Shaggy Jack” Franklin said.
“Foodies will particularly enjoy the festival,” says Sunshine Coast Palate publisher and festival organizer Andrea Coates. Starting at noon in the community kitchen downstairs, chefs Jack Chen and Hilary Prince of Brassica, the new Coho Commissary restaurant soon to open in Lower Gibsons, will be creating a variety of ready-to-eat gourmet foraged wild mushroom dishes for festival attendees to enjoy for lunch. In the evening, chef Mike Buono of Buono Osteria restaurant in Lower Gibsons will serve a special menu of Italian-style locally-foraged wild mushroom dishes, highlighting the various flavors and textures of fresh-picked seasonal mushrooms. Sunday will feature educational forest foraging walks hosted by Shaggy Jack.
Tickets for Dosed, individual workshops and for the dinner at Buono Osteria can be purchased online in advance at Mushroomania.ca. Seating is limited due to COVID protocols, so book as soon as possible.
MushrooMania is presented by Mycleyum, Sunshine Coast Palate and Shaggy Jack’s Wild Mushrooms, with generous sponsorships from the Town of Gibsons, Gibsons Public Market and Coho Commissary.