Fungus Fair returns this weekend

This death cap, or amanita phalloides, was growing in a group of about seven in Watsonville at the base of Hecker Pass. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

SANTA CRUZ — With a motto of “keeping the fun in fungi,” the Santa Cruz Fungus Fair will take place for the 45th year in a row in downtown Santa Cruz Friday through Sunday.

The family-oriented event is an arena for people, from beginners to advanced, to get a handle of the wild mushroom world with a focus on what grows nearby.

The theme this year is “Mushrooms as Medicine.”

The centerpiece of the event, put on by the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz, is a fungi display in a re-created woodland habitat where hundreds of wild mushrooms are set in a similar natural model of where they grow in the wild.

“Learn about the hundreds of beautiful and fascinating species of mushrooms found in the Santa Cruz/Monterey and Bay Area,” the FFSC press release states. “This unique Santa Cruz tradition features three days of fantastic fun, informative speakers and demonstrations, with fungal activities for the whole family.”

The event was founded by world-renowned author David Arora (“All That the Rain Promises and More,” and “Mushrooms Demystified”) in 1973.

The FFSC actively promotes the study of mushrooms, and is dedicated to encouraging an avid interest in the fungal kingdom.

Did you know that without fungus, we’d have no bread, cheese, beer or wine? Or that anti-cholesterol medicine was developed from mushrooms? Come to the Santa Cruz Fungus Fair to learn all there is to know about the world of mushrooms. The fair showcases speakers, cooking demonstrations, a special Kids’ Room, and a taxonomy panel for identification of fungi that people find in their travels. Books and mushroom-related items are available for sale, as are wild mushroom delicacies.

Featured speakers this year include:

• Noah Siegel, “California, Land of the Year Around Mushroom Forage.”

• Phil Carpenter, “An Introduction To Mushroom Identification.”

• Justin Pierce, “An Introduction into Mushroom Cultivation.”

• Christopher Hobbs, Ph.D., the ancient use and modern scientific research of the benefits of psilocybin and an overview of the genus of Psilocybe mushrooms for healing and health.

• Chefs Chad Hyatt and Jeff Emery, cooking demonstration.

The Fungus Fair will he held at the Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center St. in Santa Cruz. Kids under 12 are free. For information, visit


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