Mushroom merriment

5-kilometer race Grow in the Dark opens fungus-filled wine, cooking extravaganza

ckrotzer@theolympian.comJuly 26, 2013 

The sixth annual Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival takes over the Regional Athletic Complex off Steilacoom Road in Lacey this weekend, only this year it kicks off early.

A food and wine event that was featured Saturday last year moves to Friday night this year at Harmony Hall. The hall is at Washington Land Yacht Harbor, 9101 Steilacoom Road SE, Olympia.

“The festival has been tying to grow and while we are not quite ready to have three full days of the festival, we were looking for ways to start it off the evening before,” event co-chair Corey Lopardi said.

The weekend-long event attracts upwards of 10,000 people looking to learn about mushrooms, enjoy mushroom cuisine and meet a few local and celebrity chefs, including YouTube chef Jimbo Jitsu.

Additionally, there are nine options during the annual “Shroom Feast” with offerings from Red Wind Casino, Ricardos, Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel, and the Hawks Prairie Rotary.

The entire festival generates about two-thirds of the Hawks Prairie Rotary’s $40,000 used for scholarships and community service projects with nonprofits, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs.

To help increase interest among attendees, Lopardi said they decided to add a 5K run to the festival.

“Along with the wine event, we are always looking for people to come and stay and go to the festival the next day,” Lopardi said.

The race, dubbed the “Grow in the Dark 5K” starts at 9 p.m. Saturday. Participants will be outfitted with glow-in-the-dark T-shirts with bracelets and necklaces available for purchase.

It’s a trend that has grown popular in other jurisdictions, Lopardi said.

“It’s picking up momentum in other areas, so I thought we could do them here,” Lopardi said.

The Sounders Women soccer team also will make an appearance from noon-3 p.m. Sunday, to sign autographs and give away collapsible water bottles to children, while supplies last.

Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

WHERE: Regional Athletic Complex, 8345 Steilacoom Road SE, Lacey.

Admission: $5, kids 12 and younger are free.

Friday night kickoff: Mushroom & Wine Event runs 6-9 p.m. and costs $25 for 7 tastes and admission to the overall festival.

Grow in the Dark 5K: $25 for early birds, $35 to register the day of. Race starts at 9 p.m. July 27 at the Regional Athletic Complex.

Information: pnwmushroomfest.com

Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 ckrotzer@theolympian.com @chelseakrotzer

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