Pumpkin spice is out, mushrooms are in

Alabama Mushroom Society hosting festival in October
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Photo courtesy of American Mushroom Institute

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Emilee Boster

Small white mushrooms have sprouted up in Alabama just in time for September’s National Mushroom Month. 

According to the American Mushroom Institute, mushroom farming and growing is prominent in the United States, supporting more than 21,000 jobs and contributing $3.3 billion to the economy.

Mushrooms are also packed full of nutrients like potassium, vitamin D and the antioxidant selenium and their environmental benefits as natural recyclers of waste into compost. 

Some Alabamians are fascinated with these umbrella-shaped fungi. They walk into their backyards, identify mushrooms and use them in their dishes or eat them fresh at the dinner table.

The Alabama Mushroom Society educates Alabamians on mushrooms, their uses and their identification. They host monthly forays in Baldwin, Cullman and Elmore counties and monthly Zoom meetings that often include presentations from mushroom experts. 

The Alabama Mushroom Society is hosting the first Alabama Mushroom Festival Oct. 8-9 in Sylacauga. Mycologists, people who study fungi like mushrooms, will give presentations and demonstrations about ways to identify and use mushrooms. 

“It’s opening up a whole new world to you. You will learn things about mushrooms that you had no idea,” said Alabama Mushroom Society President Alisha Millican. “There’s so many amazing mushrooms that you will discover and learn about.”

Festivalgoers can also contribute to the society’s Alabama Fungal Diversity Project, which aims to collect, identify and archive Alabama’s fungal species. On the first day of the festival, there will be a collection foray aimed to create a comprehensive list of mushrooms that occur in Alabama. The foray’s findings will be identified by expert mycologists and sent to Auburn University and the University of West Alabama for DNA sequencing. 

“We have such a biodiverse state that we expect to be very impressed by what all we find,” Millican said. 

There will also be vendors who feature mushrooms in unique ways. Vendors will be selling mushroom infused lotion and soaps, candles with mushroom scents and mushroom artwork. There will also be vendors selling fresh mushrooms and food made with mushrooms. 

The festival is currently taking vendor applications through a form here

Tickets are $25 a person at the gate or $40 for a festival weekend pass

Categories: Local News