After months of uncertainty, a festival that has drawn thousands of mushroom lovers for the past three years is back on.
The Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival is set for July 23-24 at the Thurston County-Lacey Regional Athletic Complex. The Hawks Prairie Rotary Club slashed nearly 20 percent of the event’s budget to make it economically viable, said Rotary president Joseph Beaulieu.
The cuts targeted the event’s marketing budget, though Beaulieu said less promotion is needed as the event increases in popularity. He estimates that the weekend festival costs about $85,000 to put on – $25,000 of which comes from the City of Lacey through lodging tax funds.
In October, Rotary members voiced concerns about whether there was enough time to stage the 2011 festival and whether the club was getting a good enough return on its investment, Beaulieu said. For a while, the club posted on its website that it wouldn’t sponsor the event in 2011. The club considered postponing the event or scaling it back before moving forward with the spending cuts.
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Cuts won’t affect the size or scope of the festival, which draws between 10,000 and 20,000 people each year.
“This is a signature event for us and Lacey, so we wanted to continue to do that,” Beaulieu said.
He added that the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau is going to have a more visible and important role in staging and promoting the event.
The athletic complex is across the street from Ostrom Mushroom Farms, a main sponsor of the festival.
Ostrom provides more than $10,000 in funds and donations for the festival, marketing director Fletcher Street said.
Last year, a festival leader told The Olympian that the event raised about $25,000 in 2009, money that is spent on Rotary programs including scholarships and contributions to the Homeless Backpack program and Little Red Schoolhouse.
Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476