Whistler Naturalists’ annual event returns this week to shine a spotlight on all things mushrooms
The Whistler Naturalists have been putting the fun in fungus for nearly two decades.
But in an effort to comply with COVID-19 protocols this year, the local organization is taking the fun—and the fungi—online.
The 18th annual Fungus Among Us Mushroom Festival is set to take place virtually this week, on Oct. 16 and 17, bringing together aspiring mycologists and respected mushroom experts from a distance.
One perk to hosting the Festival virtually? Eager participants won’t have to worry about tickets to popular events selling out, as has become commonplace in recent years.
“Since we usually sell out our events, going online this year means nobody will be disappointed that they couldn’t get tickets,” said Kristina Swerhun, one of the Festival’s organizers, in a release.
In addition to a new format, the Festival is also launching a new photo contest for this year’s event, with numerous prizes up for grabs. Photo categories for the Fantastic Fungi Photo Contest include Captivating Colour, Weird and Wonderful, Already Occupied (for example, slugs, bugs, and the like), Mushrooms Magnified, and Fungal Fun (people and mushrooms). Photo submissions must have been taken between Oct. 1, 2020 and the contest’s deadline, Thursday, Oct. 15 at 5 p.m.
Prizes will be doled out for top photos in each category, decided by a panel of judges that’s set to include local pros Joern Rohde and Andy Dittrich.
Rohde even prepared some tips to help aspiring mushroom photographers get the best shots, available on the Whistler Naturalists’ website.
On Friday at 7 p.m., Fugus Among Us will present “Talks with Gurus,” featuring a variety of short presentations. Talks are set to include“A natural and cultural history of magic mushrooms in BC” presented by Andy MacKinnon and Paul Kroger, Veronica Woodruff sharing the story of an enthusiast’s journey—including a slime mold cameo, and Bryce Kendrick talking about the wonderful world of fungi. Judges will also announce the winners of the new Fantastic Fungi Photo Contest during this event.
The following day, on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., chef Bruce Worden will host an event focused on cooking and preserving wild mushrooms.
“Have you ever wanted some inspiration on how to prepare wild mushrooms in mouth-watering ways? Or wondered how to preserve mushrooms to use throughout the winter?,” The Whistler Naturalists explained in a release. “Join Chef Bruce Worden as he shares his in-depth knowledge of everything having to do with foraging and eating mushrooms and preserving the wild.” During this live virtual event, Worden—General Manager of Whistler’s Milestones restaurant, chef and all-around mushroom guru—will share recipes and answer questions from the audience.
Participants will be able to pose questions via Facebook and Zoom chats during presentations, while both 2020 events will be available for anyone to watch—though the Whistler Naturalists say donations are welcome. (More details and log on instructions can be found here.)
Despite a new format, the local organization hasn’t abandoned the scientific portion of Fungus Among Us. However, that research will be carried out by a much smaller (and physically distanced) crew of visiting scientists, the organization explained. “After 17 years of fungi surveys and more then 900 fungi on the Whistler Biodiversity Project list, it’s amazing that scientists are still finding new species every year. It really speaks to the complexity and diversity of our natural world,” read the release.
For more information about the festival, check out the Whistler Naturalists’ website.
Every year, the week after Canadian Thanksgiving, we host the annual Fungus Among Us Mushroom Festival in Whistler.
We invite expert mushroom gurus from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to lead talks, walks, and cooking demonstrations and tastings on Friday and Saturday that the public is welcome to join.
Schedule of Events
Due to COVID-19, our schedule of events will be a little bit different this year. Our public events are virtual because of physical distancing requirements but we hope they will still be engaging and fun! More events may be added closer to the date so stay tuned.
Fantastic Fungi Photo Contest (Oct. 1 – 14, 2020)
Great prizes for winners in five different categories and draw prizes to participants who submit a photo for all categories. Photos must be taken after October 1, 2020 and submitted by October 14th. Learn how to enter here!
Talks by Gurus* (Fri., Oct. 16, 2020 @ 7:00-9:30 PM)
“A natural and cultural history of magic mushrooms in BC” will be presented by Andy MacKinnon and Paul Kroger; Veronica Woodruff will talk about an enthusiast’s journey which will include a slime mold cameo; Bryce Kendrick will talk about the wonderful world of fungi; and the Fantastic Fungi Photo Contest winners will be announced by the judges so be sure to watch!
Cooking and Preserving Wild Mushrooms with Chef Bruce Worden* (Sat., Oct. 17, 2020 @ 4:00-6:00 PM)
Have you ever wanted some inspiration on how to prepare wild mushrooms in mouth-watering ways? Or wondered how to preserve mushrooms to use throughout the winter? Join Chef Bruce Worden as he shares his in-depth knowledge of everything having to do with foraging and eating mushrooms and preserving the wild. During this live virtual event Bruce will be sharing recipes and answering as many questions from the audience as he can. Bruce is the General Manager at Milestones restaurant in Whistler, Chef and mushroom guru.
*Presentations are virtual and will be open to questions from participants on Facebook and Zoom via chat.
This year’s events are open to all to watch – donations welcome.
Mushroom Scavenger Hunt
Get up close and personal with mushrooms in the forest around you by going on a Mushroom Scavenger Hunt! Although we created this for our local K-7 students, we think this activity can be great fun for all. Watch the video and download the activity sheet to get started here.