Mushrooms draw a crowd in McCloud

Gene Eagle
Sky Young holds the 0.06 pound morel mushroom that won her first place in the mushroom contest in McCloud this past weekend, while mycologist Eric Schramm holds the biggest boleta, weighing in at 2.88 pounds. It was found by Lisa and Souphat Dansendthong.

Mushroom madness gripped the community of McCloud over the weekend as fungi foragers, mushroom experts and hobbyists, gardeners and culinary experts who can do more with fungi than you’d ever imagine converged on the town for the fifth annual Mushroom-Music-Wine Faire 2009.

Jump starting the weekend was a barbecue with music and drinks, held Friday evening at the PanExotic Wild Edibles building on  Squaw Valley Road. The barbecue was hosted by PanExotic founder Franco Vallasso,  one of the world’s largest suppliers of wild gourmet products.

Also Friday evening, wine tasting with hors d’oeuvres was held upstairs in the mercantile building. Participating wineries were Alpencellars and Shasta View.

Vendors were set up at the bottom of Main Street selling gourmet products, specialty items and holding cooking demonstrations. Chefs prepared and served their own secret mushroom delicacies.

Whether they were fresh or dried, partaken on a sandwich, skewered on a stick or porcini mushrooms stuffed in raviolis covered with  creme sauce, mushroom was surely king. Local restaurants also prepared and served special mushroom dishes.

Karel Couch and Christine Baldwin of Anderson were just driving through, saw the signs and decided to stop. They ended up having tri-tip covered with mushroom sandwiches for lunch.

“It was very good,” they said.

Event emcee Jowe Bravo kept faire-goers up to date on the happenings, introductions and the progress of the competitive mushroom hunt as it progressed through the weekend.

Live music was performed throughout the two-day event by bands such as  Gypsy Show and Starseed, Jim and Larry Eaton, Space Messengers, Dick Pedicord and Friends, Dave Amour Band, Fat Sack of Bluegrass, Marble Mountain Mojo Boys, Rock Creek Crossing, and the Ron Lovelace Band. Most of the musicians were members of the Siskiyou Blues Society of Mount Shasta.

Professional ballroom dancers Rick and Peggy Nixon demonstrated upstairs in the Mercantile Building Saturday afternoon, attracting more than 35 guests. The couple teaches dancing at College of the Siskiyous and  has started an evening class at Dance Country in McCloud.

Mushroom enthusiasts also attended hour-long presentations both Saturday and Sunday by The Fungi-guy, Eric Schramm, a self-taught mycologist and owner of the Mendocino Mushroom Company.

The much advertised mushroom contest for the largest bolete and morel mushrooms had local and visiting “shroomers” scouring the hills and flats in the area, all anxious to win the $100 prize.

Sky Young won with a morel weighing in at 0.06 pounds, and Lisa and Souphat Dandsendthong turned in the largest bolete, weighing 2.88 pounds.

“This year’s event was the biggest yet,” said event organizers Mike and Elfi Geuthe. “The weather was great, and we did very well. We talked to the vendors and  they were all very happy with sales. We raised a fair amount of money with our raffle, and the proceeds will benefit our museum and the elementary school,” said Elfie. “We are grateful for the volunteers who helped us set up and break down.”

The Mushroom-Music-Wine Faire was sponsored by the McCloud Chamber of Commerce.