Mushroom festival celebrates famous Pennsylvania farm town

KENNETT SQUARE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "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.

"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.

"We had to come here immediately, get some fried mushrooms," said Sam Waldman, who
flew in from West Palm Beach, Florida. "We heard they were the best and we're not disappointed at all."
Others come from around the corner just to tour the campus of food and art vendors.

"The sound, 'Mushroom Festival,' sounds boring, but don't judge a book by its cover," said Torey Daniels from West Grove, Pennsylvania. "Just come enjoy."

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."

The Mushroom Festival continues Sunday, September 12, from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Tickets are $5 per person. This year, the location has been moved to the parking lot across the street from Kennett High School. To learn more, visit their website.

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