Texas Mushroom Fest 2024

Texas Mushroom Fest 2024

A weekend full of family and outdoor fun. This year in May 2024, the North Texas mycology association has there second annual Mushroom Fest. This year the focus was on Camping and Fried Mushrooms. The Festival had guided foraging workshops and Lectures mainly about mushroom identification. This was held at the Learning Garden north of Athen Texas. You had a choice between camping for multiple days or a day pass. I personally chose a camping!

Mushroom fest was a trip. As some one the has never been camping as an adult or recklessly forage for mushrooms, It was a experience. Everyone was so welcoming and kind to one another. I am glad I went alone, because I come out with some new friends. Overall the atmosphere was hippy like and you felt apart of a group.

Day 1

As I arrived on Friday night. I came late the first lecture on which was A Fungal Odyssey: Unveiling the Mysteries of Mushroom Movement Through Space and Time by Amy Hanon. I found it pretty interesting, it was about the taxonomy of fungi kingdom, how fungi spreads and adapt to new environments. And the next lecture was Fungi Light Show: The World of Bioluminescent and Fluorescent Mushrooms By Alan Rockefeller. The was mainly about bioluminescent and fluorescent mushrooms. That was pretty much an introduction for the night forays. These night forays required a UV flash light to find mushroom. And wow, these findings where gorgeous beyond belief.

Day 2

In the morning, I got dressed went foraging by myself. It was pretty early and cool, So there was no one around. So off in the woods felt very at ease, through that little hike I came across several species of mushrooms of some that I knew and some not, like the old man of the woods. Which looks like a grey classical mushroom with black spikes all over it. After I manage to get back to the festival and had breakfast and did a morning foray with the group. We came across a large varieties of mushroom and this is when every realize this location of the festival was a diverse mycological ecosystem. Then we had some down times, Then I went on another foray with some strangers. We where a group of 6 people, during that foray we found some black berries that we randomly ate, which are native to Texas known as Dew Berries. But that is not the first time I have put something unknown in my mouth. Overall we collected a bunch of mushrooms that we brought back and shared out finds with the other festival goers.

Later that day I went for a hike by myself. I manage to get lost after 15 mins of walking. But through that I eventually found some other festival goers foraging. Found out that there was a group foray with those festival goer and I went along with them. We did stop multiple times with the group. And one of those stop we found a Destroying angel which is a extremely poisonous mushroom. There was an explain on how daily it is, and we past it around the group. I was the last person to get and as a parlor trick I take huge bite and take 2-3 chops. Then I spitted it out twice, and did not swollen for a few minutes. The guy next to me was horrified! I told him it was okay to do that. Mind you, one should NEVER DO THIS with out proper guide and experience. I found it pretty funny, then moved on. Later that night there where lectures over mushroom identification and mushroom poisoning. The identification talk was Introduction to Fleshy Mushrooms by Dr. Clark Ovrebo. As a break from lectures, the group went into the kitchen for a cooking demonstration for culinary mushrooms. We have a variety of mushrooms. Like Oyster, Lions mane, maitake, and the festival goers manage to forage a good amount of indigo milk caps. Thus the mushrooms where either deep fried and very delicious. Right after the cooking demonstration there was a talk on mushroom poisoning called An Introduction to Mushroom Poisoning by Dr. Denis R. Benjamin. Through that lecture I became increasingly worried about taste testing the destroying angel. I learn in that lecture that the destroying angel has amatoxins and no antidote, which doesn’t take an affect until 12-48 hours later. So I thought I really F*** up. I had to go up and ask questions and taste testing mushrooms and amatoxins. Since I did not swollen I would be okay.

Later that night, there where another talk on mushroom photography and identification which as Decoding the Forest Floor: The Art of Mushroom Recognition by Alan Rockefeller. Which was interesting, but kind boring. Once that was over, there was another UV foray at night. We break off into groups then the group ventured forward. Through that we found some florescent mushrooms and animals like centipedes and scorpions. Over a couple of hours the group decides to head back go to bed.

Day 3

On day 3 who ever was left ate breakfast and we did a morning foray, with a lecture An Afternoon with Amanita by Spike Mikulski. Spike was our chef that did the cooking demonstration and very passionate about the genus Amanita. Which as over 1,000 different types of species. Which is mind blowing and detail each mushroom is. At this point I am exhausted and I decided to pack up and go home. Through this experience I manage to make some friends and bought a shiitake mushroom log.

Overall this was an amazing experience, I never felt such of hippie before. But the festival had me love mushrooms and the wonders of mycology never before. I was excited to learn more about foraging and identification. The people where great and interesting, and everyone has a great time! I will be back next year!

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