Community Event, Featured News

The 20th Annual McCloud Mushroom Festival: biggest and best mushroom extravaganza ever

The 20th Annual McCloud Mushroom Festival over the Memorial weekend on May 25th and 26th was the biggest and best mushroom extravaganza ever.

Not only was this 2024 season great for foraging mushrooms in the Siskiyou County forests, but the festival was a huge success in teaching people about mushrooms, showing them how to forage for them, and for those who were not into that, there were tons of mushrooms to buy for cooking at home or mushroom dishes already prepared from many vendors that lined Main Street in McCloud. Not all the food vendors were selling mushrooms. There was something for every taste;  Mexican, Italian, American and many other ethnic foods that included desserts, and hot or cold drinks. 

But there were more than just mushrooms to eat, there was mushroom art and crafts, mushroom T-shirts and clothing, mushroom jewelry, and so much more. 

Robert Sanchez from Corning, bought a pound of dried morel mushrooms for $90. He says he will be cooking them with his steak dinners. 

Historically, the Mushroom Festival draws around 10,000 people, but this year, according to McCloud Chamber Executive Director Jeana Ronfeldt, they exceeded this number by a few hundred more. They had over 140 vendor booths covering over 4 blocks in the heart of town this year. There was something for everyone; face painting for kids, a wine tasting for adults, music, and tons of things to see, do, and buy. 

Not only were there public workshops on mushroom foraging and identification, but preservations and use of medicinal mushrooms, and there was even a mushroom craft workshop for all ages. 

Local Debbie Wall and her friend from Los Angeles, Hope Howard, look at mushroom patterned tops.

And for those who just wanted to enjoy the live music, there was a variety of bands for everyone’s tastes. The bands included Daniel Nickels, Mountaintop Sound, Wes Youssi & the County Champs, Shelley Rusk, New Wave Crave and Chad Bushnell. 

Manual Mora who lives in McCloud says he buys a Mushroom Festival T-shirt every year.

The planning of the Mushroom Festival takes a full 5 months of preparation. McCloud Chamber President Quentin Zahara said, “This year was the largest festival we have had in its 20 year history. None of this would have happened without all the chamber directors, especially Jeana Ronfeldt. We had a better jundra and more variety of music this year. And we appreciate all the many volunteers that helped to make this so successful. The vendors all said that they did very well this year. And many of the local restaurants sold out of their mushroom specials pretty early on.”

For those who didn’t get enough over the two full days, there was a Mushroom Fest After Party held at the McCloud Dance Hall from 6PM to 11PM on Sunday evening.

This included a dinner with a buffet of a ton of appetizers which included antipasto, a salad bar, veggies and a variety of dips that included roasted eggplant, artichoke, tomato, bruschetta, pickled carrots, cauliflower, crostini, focaccia bread and a variety of olives, dried fruit, cold cuts and cheeses, and two main dishes of mushroom stroganoff. There was a variety of dishes for those that are vegan or gluten free. The chef, Rosanna Caira from Los Angeles, worked on preparing the variety of dishes for 2 days.

In the spirit of the festival, Rosanna,  who owns RabbitWholeFoods.com,  prepared chocolate and shortbread cookie dessert treats in the shape of mushrooms.  Also, to accommodate the public, there were two types of bars to suit everyone’s taste; a regular alcohol bar and a Mocktail (Sober) Bar that had functional mushroom and herbal non-alcoholic mocktails. 

Adults and children danced to the bluegrass bands Mycelial and The Mountain Messengers. 

Local McCloudian, Burce Burlinger, said of the Mushroom Fest After Party; “This dinner/dance is a great end to a festive and fun weekend. And it was geared as a family event.”

Owner of the McCloud Dance Hall, Kristen Cunningham said that last year the Chamber hosted a dinner and dance but because they were not going to this year, she hosted it on her own. Kristen’s team included many people who volunteered. 

Quentin Zahara, McCloud Chamber President, brought Cunningham up on stage and thanked her for putting on a great after-party that was very well attended. 

The McCloud Dance Hall hosts many annual retreats, including the upcoming Heller Works International, Burning Tango, and many square dancing organizations. To reserve the McCloud Dance Hall for concerts or weddings, go to Mcclouddancehall.com.

loads of great event pictures at www.siskiyou.news

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2 Comments

  1. Colleen Blount

    Great article Shareen. You should be proud of how you keep the community informed! Great Job Shareen. I would love to support your efforts. How much does it cost to pay for your paper online ?

    • Avatar photo Jay A. Martin

      online is 5$ a month, thanks for the kind words. Shareen is a real asset in the south county.

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