By Fran Maye
The 28th annual Mushroom Festival set for Sept. 7 and Sept. 8 this year will feature more than 230 vendors, a community parade, an antique and classic car show, a mushroom eating contest and for perhaps the last year, mushroom tours.
Admission to the festival is $2, and pets are prohibited.
The festival typically attracts tens of thousands of people to Kennett Square, and Kathi Lafferty, festival organizer, said attendance depends on the weather.
“Once it gets here, I don’t want it to end, as long as we get good weather,” Lafferty said.
Carly Hall, host of ABC’s “The Chew,” and former Top Chef contestant, will be the festival’s celebrity chef. Tickets for her demonstrations at noon and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 8, are on sale now at the festival’s web site, www.mushroomfestival.org.
New this year is an amateur appetizer contest, replacing the amateur soup contest.
“We’ve been doing soup for so long we thought it was time for a change,” Lafferty said.
Thirteen appetizer entries were received, and it will be narrowed to six finalists.
The community parade steps off Friday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. with a new parade route this year. Staging will take place at the entrance to Anson B. Nixon Park on Walnut Street and continue down State Street to Walnut Street.
The six-piece Kensington String Band will perform, as well as a new entrant this year, the Lincoln University Marching Band. Lafferty is trying to the Kennett Middle School band to perform, because the Kennett High Marching Band will be out of town.
Immediately after the parade, there will be dining under the stars, weather permitting. Music will fill the air and there will be dancing on State Street. This will all take place in conjunction with Kennett Square’s First Friday Art Stroll on State Street.
The popular fried mushroom eating contest returns. Winner gets $200 and a trophy. The world’s record is 5.5 pounds of mushroom consumed in eight minutes.
For kids, the carnival will be available both days. It is located at 600 South Broad Street.
A festival favorite is the classic and antique car contest. Preregistration ($20) is open until Aug. 26 for this Saturday event that takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Lafferty said this may be the last year for the popular farm tours.
“There’s been a major issue with the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) with sanitation and liability,” Lafferty said. “We don’t know how many more years we will be able to do it.”
Mushroom officials still have not been able to find a suitable farm for this year’s festival, but the search will continue up until opening day.
The Mushroom Festival 5K Walk/Run starts at 8:30 on Sunday, Sept. 8. Both events start in front of Kennett Square High School and continue along the Red Clay Creek. Registration this year is being done online. Last year, Angel Rodgriguez set a course record of 17:05 in the 5K.
Entries for the Mushroom Festival’s Cute As A Button contest are being taken through Aug. 21. Details and application forms available online.
Lafferty said volunteers are still needed to help with the festival. Volunteers receive t-shirts, admission wristbands and parking passes. To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proceeds from the Mushroom Festival benefit local charities in southern Chester County. Last year, the Mushroom Festival donated $65,000 to 41 area non-profit agencies.