Fungi fest stars mushrooms and more

Organizers expect 10,000 by time event with celebrity chefs, cookoffs wraps up

ckrotzer@theolympian.comJuly 28, 2013 

Sean McCloskey found relief from the summer heat Saturday with a cone filled with mushroom ice cream.

It was one of many mushroom-themed delicacies offered during the sixth annual Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival at the Regional Athletic Center in Lacey. The festival continues from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Sean, 7, and his parents, Heather Hortie and Kevin McCloskey, live in West Seattle after migrating west from Maryland. They were attracted to the South Sound event for one reason.

“We love mushrooms,” Hortie said, hands filled with different food offerings.

The two-day event attracts as many as 10,000 people. Though it was too early to tell Saturday afternoon, event co-chair Corey Lopardi said the festival was well on its way to good numbers.

The sun break helped, too.

“We were a bit concerned this morning, but the sun is out and people keep coming,” Lopardi said.

A cooking demonstration by Chef Amadeus — the Food Network’s “Extreme Chef” Season 1 winner — attracted quite a crowd.

“It was standing room only,” Lopardi said.

The chef will close the event with a 4:30 p.m. demonstration Sunday. He will be joined by members of the Seattle Sounders Women soccer team.

New this year is a night 5K run dubbed “Grow in the Dark.” Lopardi said more than 300 people had signed up by noon Saturday.

One Lacey family ran straight to the event’s popular Shroom Feast line when it arrived, tasting mushroom pizza, portobello mushroom sliders and bacon-wrapped mushrooms. “The sliders are definitely a thumbs up,” said Jason Arneson.

Among the chefs offering up mushroom dishes was Tyler Wilson of Dirty Dave’s Pizza and his cousin Rick Nelson — better known as Chef Ricardo — owner of Ricardo’s Pizza Express. The two family-owned businesses teamed up to support Homeless Backpacks, an Olympia-based nonprofit focused on ending homelessness.

Proceeds from the day’s events will go to the cause. Wilson and Nelson raised about $2,500 last year and walked away with two first-place awards for their dishes. They hope to have a repeat this year.

“It’s fun for us, the family all coming together,” Nelson said while handing out a fresh pizza.

Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 @chelseakrotzer

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