By Anne Uhle, Correspondent, The Times
KENNETT SQUARE — The 32nd Annual Mushroom Festival is bigger and better than ever, taking over the downtown area this weekend.
The whole celebration will kick off with a parade around the square at 6 p.m. Friday night followed by Dancing in the Streets with good foot at 9:30 p.m. An old-fashioned carnival will also be open Friday night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 600 S Broad Street.
“To kick off the parade there are 82 entries which is huge, it’s close to the most if not the most we’ve ever had.” said Kathi Lafferty, the festival’s coordinator.
The fair opens Saturday at 10 a.m with nearly 250 vendors, both local and from around the country selling food, drinks, art, and more from Willow Street to Garfield Street.
“We’re adding tables and chairs closer to some of the food vendors so that people can sit down and eat.” Says Lafferty.
Saturday-only events include the Antique Classic Car Show, the Fried Mushroom Eating Championship, and the 10,000 Maniacs concert.
“We have the 10,000 Maniacs concert on Saturday night that The Flash is hosting, that tent seats 800 people and tickets are already sold out.” Says Lafferty of the concert.
Saturday’s guest chefs who will be sharing tips and recipes in the culinary tent include chefs from this years James Beard Foundation Blended Burger Project at 1 p.m. and Ray Maxwell, owner and master chef of the Brown Derby at 4 p.m.
“At the culinary event we’re having the James Beard Foundation Blended Burger Project. They’ll be giving 200 samples out.” Says Lafferty advising visitors to come out early to sample the burgers.
Sunday only events will be the Mushroom Run and Fun Gus Walk, the Mushroom Judging, and the Soup and Wine Event.
Sunday’s guest chefs at the Culinary Tent will be Elizabeth Davis Cerami of Y’or so Sweet at 10:30 a.m., Barry Crumlich Executive Chef to the Governor of Pennsylvania at noon, Jim Del Vescovo of Aurora Pizza Kitchen at 2 p.m., and Jim Berman of Grain Craft Bar and Kitchen at 3:15 p.m.
Throughout the weekend, visitors can get a special, behind the scenes look at a mushroom’s journey from spore to on their plates at the Mushroom Growers’ Exhibit. The Masonic Lodge offers visitors a traditional mushroom soup made with a mushroom grower’s family recipe.
Painted Mushrooms will be displayed at State and Broad Streets and visitors can even participate in a silent auction to take one home with them. Visitors can also use their pocket change to vote for their favorite photo in the Cute-As-A-Button (Mushroom) Baby Photo contest, proceeds from the contest benefit A.I DuPont Children’s Hospital. Live music will be played on South Union and Cypress streets throughout the duration of the festival. In addition to the Carnival on South Broad Street, there will also be Children’s Rides located between Lafayette Street and Meredith Street. The children’s entertainment stage has also moved to Lafayette Street.
“We changed our children’s entertainment venue and our music venue. The music venue is moving to South Broad Street and the children’s entertainment venue will be on Lafayette, closer to the children’s rides.” Says Lafferty.
Overall, Lafferty says she’s most excited for the weather. “It’s supposed to be beautiful. I just want everyone to come and have a good time.”