Mushroom festival celebrates famous Pennsylvania farm town

KENNETT SQUARE, Pennsylvania -- "I lived here my whole life, born and raised in Kennett Square, came from a mushroom family," said Gale Ferranto of Buona Foods.

Ferranto's kind of upbringing is not unheard of in the self-proclaimed Mushroom Capital of the World. She says roughly 63 family farms are still surviving after several generations of supplying hundreds of millions of pounds of mushrooms around the country.

Although the fungi frenzy began in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it wasn't until 1986 that the town organized its first Mushroom Festival. Now, the annual event takes place the weekend after Labor Day.

"This festival has helped to spread the awareness of how we grow mushrooms and how important mushrooms are to our state economy," said Ferranto, who has recently been tapped as the festival coordinator.

Despite going dark last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 36th annual event is drawing crowds from around the nation.

Others come from around the corner just to tour the campus of food and art vendors.

Apart from the food, music, and mushroom eating contest, family farmers take time to teach guests about the various stages of mushroom growth.

"I mean, it's really labor-intensive. That's a lot of work goes into this," said Cris Pugh, who displays exotic mushrooms grown with Kennett Square Specialities. "I do this every year, I love volunteering my time. I like interacting with people who come through. They get to see how it's actually done."

To learn more about the Mushroom Festival, visit their website.

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