McCloud Mushroom, Wine and Music Faire tickles tastebuds

Gene Eagle
"Fabulous, so good," is how Linda Chitwood of Mount Shasta describes a sampling of portobello paninis, offered by Jackie Hagerty of the Mt. Shasta Kiwanis during the 7th Annual McCloud Mushroom, Wine and Music Faire. The weekend event was deemed a success by organizers, despite the threat of rain Saturday.

Mushroom lovers from across the Northstate converged on McCloud over the weekend to celebrate the 7th Annual McCloud Mushroom, Wine and Music Faire. Festivities included continuous live music with several local bands performing, a mushroom hunt contest, lots of mushroom specialties prepared by recognized chefs, a free mushroom seminar, certified organic plants and flowers, honey, jerky, jewelry, arts and crafts and more.

Foreboding clouds and light sprinkles early Saturday morning had a few folks concerned, but overall the two-day event saw mostly bright sunshine.

Ron Lovelace of the band by the same name welcomed everyone and reminded those attending what Memorial Day was all about. He praised the men and women of the armed forces who go in harm's way so we are able to do the things we do.

The bands and musicians who performed over the weekend are members of the Siskiyou Blues Society and donated their time and talent to the event.

"The music was great and the food was awesome," said Tim and Debbie Cahill of El Dorado Hills. Calif. The couple came up for the weekend to stay at the Mount Shasta Resort to play golf but with the weather, they decided to check out the Faire.

"We're having a good time," sad Tim.

Red's Cajun Cookin' was back again this year serving up grilled tri-tips with white morel sauce, and a "twist" on baked beans.

"With more of a zing," said vendor, Terraceana Spikes.

Hot dogs and hamburgers were readily available, served by the Order of the Eastern Star. Spokesperson Marlene Facey of Mount Shasta  said, they did well.

"The Art of Whole Animal Cooking" was brought to  this year's Faire by John Fink and associate Doug Halleran, who put a whole pig on a rotisserie and roasted it over a wood fire for about five hours. Fink is the chef and proprietor of  The Whole Beast, a catering company in San Francisco.

"Instead of  a classic porketta, we put a lot of mushroom influence  on it," said Fink.

“We were sold out Sunday afternoon,” said Halleran.

The Kiwanis van from Mount Shasta was on hand selling paninis, sourdough bread grilled on both sides, with portobello mushrooms, and Mediterranean sauce with cheese. The fundraiser benefits many projects of the Kiwanis  to help the children in Siskiyou County.

Eric Schramm on Mendocino Mushroom Company sponsored the Mushroom Hunt Contest.  He gave two free mushroom seminars upstairs in the McCloud Mercantile building over the weekend with over 90 people attending Saturday's presentation.

A free video by the US Forest Service on how to pick mushrooms properly was set up inside the mercantile, along with a mushroom information display board. Other mushroom displays were set up in the hallway of the building.  

McCloud resident Louis Forneris, last year's  $100 winner of the largest bolete,  was the winner again this year. His mushroom weighed in at 2.66 pounds.

Craig Vivas of Mount Shasta had the largest morel mushroom, which weighed in at .541 pounds, winning him a crisp $100 bill.

"I think everything went wonderfully well," said co-chair of this year's event, Ronda Elliott.

"All the vendors said they liked being here because it's so much fun."

The 7th annual Mushroom, Music, and Wine Faire, is sponsored each year by the McCloud Chamber of Commerce.

"We are glad to be here, said Nico and Alexandera who were at McCloud’s Mushroom Faire over the weekend from West Marin County. The young ladies are enjoying a matsutake mushroom speciality prepared by Pan Exotic- Wild Edibles founder and chef Franco Vassallo and associate Corrine Neyhart. Vassalo said he did well in sales over the weekend, and believed the 7th Annual McCloud Wine and Music Faire was a success despite the weather.