Kennett Square >> Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to Kennett Square Sept. 6 and 7 for the 29th annual Mushroom Festival. And this year, there’s more to see than ever before.
“We’re completely sold out of vendors,” said Kathi Lafferty, the festival’s organizer. “We have never been booked up this early. Last year, we had perfect weather, and so far this year, we have had a good weekend weather pattern, so we’re hoping for good weather.”
Admission to the festival is $2 and pets are prohibited.
The festival typically attracts 50,000 to 60,000 people during the two-day event. More than 200 vendors will set up on State Street. Lafferty said several corporate vendors have been approved, including Bird’s Eye, Blue Cross and General Motors. One of the vendors will be offering samples of Mexican beer.
This will be the last year for a farm tour, Lafferty said.
Highlights of the festival on Saturday will be an antique and classic car show, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Broad Street, an amateur mushroom soup cook-off at the special events tent, a national Fried Mushroom Eating Championship at 3 p.m., at the special events tent and an evening concert at 7:30 p.m., featuring the Jersey Boys, (“Lights Out, A Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons”). Tickets are $30 ($45 for a meet and greet) and available at www.kennettflash.org.
Contestants at the mushroom eating contest will be trying to break the world record of consuming nine pounds of fried mushrooms in eight minutes.
On Sunday, highlights include a mushroom run/walk at 8:30 a.m., in front of Kennett High School, a radio-controlled airplane demonstration at 10 a.m., on the front lawn of Kennett High School, a soup and wine event, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the special events tent, and mushroom judging at noon at the growers’ exhibit.
The mushroom cook-off contest will showcase six finalists as they prepare their appetizers for judging on Saturday, Sept. 6, with the winner being crowned by a panel of celebrity judges.
“We’re challenging our amateurs to create an appetizer-sized portion of their best mushroom recipe,” said Jen Basciani, chairperson of the annual amateur cooking competition. “We had so many unique mushroom appetizer recipes last year that we are going to feature mushroom appetizers again this year.”
The first place winner receives $500 and a plaque. Plaques are also awarded to second and third place winners. The winning recipe will be featured on the Mushroom Festival’s website and in various publications or through www.mushroomfestival.org.
For children and adults, there will be a Midway, featuring lots of rides.
Both Saturday and Sunday, there will be a 50/50 raffle with proceeds going to the second annual Mushroom Drop, which takes place on New Year’s Eve.
The annual Mushroom Festival Parade steps off at 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5, and the special guest will be Gov. Tom Corbett. It starts on Willow Street, proceeds along State Street and ends at Meredith Street. Many local restaurants will provide outdoor dining for a great view of the parade. After the parade, there will be dancing in the streets with council president Leon Spencer and his band, Good Foot.
The Mushroom Festival was chosen as one of the 20 contenders in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Specialty Food Festivals contest, running now through Monday, Sept. 1. As of Aug. 15, the Mushroom Festival was second in voting behind the Keene Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshie. Vote online at www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-specialty-food-festival.
The Mushroom Festival financially assists many local non-profit organizations in southern Chester County. Last year, the Mushroom Festival donated $70,000 to more than 40 area nonprofit agencies.
Contact Fran Maye at 610-235-2656.