The fall festival celebrating the mycological marvels that grow wild in B.C.’s woods is returning to Sicamous for another year.
Fungi Fest, which uses activities based around wild mushrooms to educate and entertain, will be held at the Sicamous Curling Club on Sept. 27 to 30.
The festival kicks off with an icebreaker event at Joe Schmuck’s Roadhouse at 7 p.m. on Sept. 27 that features an open mic and mushroom-themed dishes as well as the restaurant’s normal offerings. Organizer Deb Heap said numerous vegan guests have attended the festival in the past and efforts will be made to accommodate them throughout the weekend.
“It’s just kind of a chance to get to know each other before the main festival,” she said.
The main festival kicks off on Sept. 28. The marquee events of the festival include all- day foraging tours led by mushroom experts Larry Evans, Tyson Ehlers and Daniel Winkler.
“Everything I hear back from anyone that participates is that they love the experts. They’re really good at what they do and they’re really engaging and personable, and they just do a really great job.”
Lots of preparation, including scouting by Doug Airey, a local expert who lives near Malakwa, goes into choosing the locations for the tours in order to give participants the best chance of finding edible mushrooms.
The tours will run from mid-morning into the afternoon on all three days of the festival and cost $100 each. The fee includes transportation and a bag lunch.
Heap said Winkler is returning to the festival after several years which is very exciting because his expertise has been well-received in the past. Along with helping lead the tours, Winkler will do a presentation on medicinal mushrooms, which Heap said is one of his fortes.
Along with the presentation on medicinal mushrooms, there will be sessions dealing with edible mushrooms and “magic mushrooms,” a topic Heap says always draws a crowd.
This year’s festival will introduce a new workshop on growing mushrooms. All of the presentations and workshops will take place at the curling club and cost $10 to attend.
Those who want to get outdoors but can’t afford the cost or the strenuous activity of the full day walking tour, fungi expert Paul Kroeger will give a walking tour from 1 to 3 p.m. around Sicamous.
Kroeger will introduce participants to the interesting fungus that grows around the district. The shorter tour costs $30.
“He’s very good at what he does too, so that’s always quite popular,” Heap said.
She added that even though it was very dry last year, which resulted in minimal mushroom growth, participants remained engaged in Kroeger’s tour. His knowledge of Sicamous allowed him to educate and entertain the audience with other subjects, including local history.
Heap said the festival has something for everyone, regardless of budget or interest in foraging for fungi.
Along with the tours and presentations, there will be displays, food trucks, beverage gardens, live music and a chance to talk to the fungi experts.
More information to register for activities can be found at www.fungifestival.com.