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Fungus gets its day

Allison Imel Hamza, a nutritional therapy practitioner, serves up samples of her No Pest Pesto in Fresh Crimini Caps recipe with help from nearby vendor Sally Liechti at the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival on Sunday afternoon in the Lacey area.
Allison Imel Hamza, a nutritional therapy practitioner, serves up samples of her No Pest Pesto in Fresh Crimini Caps recipe with help from nearby vendor Sally Liechti at the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival on Sunday afternoon in the Lacey area. The Olympian

The Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival offers much about mushrooms. There will be foods to sample, recipes, information about harvesting, and tours of nearby Ostrom Mushrooms.

But Saturday and Sunday’s festival in Lacey is characterized as much by its variety as by its focus on fungi.

“The festival has so many things going on,” said Corey Lopardi, one of the co-chairs of the event, sponsored by the Hawk’s Prairie Rotary. “On Sunday, Ciscoe Morris comes down and does his live radio show, ‘Gardening With Ciscoe.’ That’s one of our biggest draws every year.”

Morris is a personal favorite of rotary President Joseph Beaulieu, too – not the least because the two have been mistaken for relatives.

“We look a little bit alike,” he said. “I have the curly hair and the mustache.”

The festival also offers live music, including fishing tunes by The Bobbers, Manhattan Transfer-style vocal jazz by Off Boulevard, and a variety of acoustic performers. Vendors offer antiques and crafts as well as food.

But the biggest emphasis is on fun for the family – in particular, the kids who probably aren’t all that interested in mushrooms.

“Each year, we keep trying to make the event more appealing, more exciting and more interesting and to make it a family-oriented event,” Beaulieu said.

There’ll be face painting, balloon twisting, bounce houses and entertainment, including Captain Bill and the Lost Boys. And new this year is Tow Mater, a truck character from the “Cars” films by Pixar.

“There’s a lot of buzz in the community about that truck,” Beaulieu said.

For those who love mushrooms, though, the Shroom Feast is probably the centerpiece. The rotary club chefs won the top prize last year with smoked-seafood stuffed mushrooms.

Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. both days, festivalgoers can sample 21 different mushroom dishes created by chefs from Budd Bay Cafe, Bayview School of Cooking, the rotary club, Beau Leggs Catering, and Red Wind Casino.

Don’t worry: There’s no need to sample all 21 dishes before choosing a favorite.

“There are multiple bites for each taste,” Lopardi said. “If you were to sample all 21 tastes, it would be a pretty good meal.”

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