Only fun(gi) can be found at the Telluride Mushroom Festival

by Amanda Push

The good people of Telluride decided mushrooms were so delicious there needed to be an entire five-day festival dedicated to them.

Thus, in 1981, the Telluride Mushroom Festival was born “and has been celebrating all things mycological, from the newest advancements in mushroom science to our famous mushroom cook-off,” according to the event website.

Thirty-eight years later, from Aug. 14-18, mushroom lovers from all over will descend on the mountain to share their passion, skills, and knowledge.

The purpose of Telluride’s ‘shroom festival is to act as a reminder that fungi isn’t just for eating. There’s a whole realm of purposes and possibilities that mushrooms offer.

“From breaking down plant cellulose in nature to creating nutrients for plants, to serving as food and medicine for people, to acting as bio-remediators to filter and break down toxic land from oil spills and agricultural run off,” according to the event website, mushrooms are doing some pretty incredible things other than serving as a pizza topping.

This year, the theme for the festival is “Healing the Mind, Healing the Planet.” Appropriate considering that this year Denver decriminalized magic mushrooms and how much global warming has kicked it up a notch.

The 2019 fest will host many experts in the mycological field including David Nichols, professor emeritus of pharmacology at Purdue; Giuliana Furci, founder/director of Chile’s Fundación Fungi; Tradd and Olga Cotter of Mushroom Mountain, a privately owned mushroom research facility; and Katrina Blair, author of “The Wild Wisdom of Weeds.”

Basically, they’re going to put the fun in fungi. OK, yes, terrible dad joke. Take us away now, please.

While it might seem a little heavy handed to have an entire five days dedicated to mushrooms, if you breeze through the schedule of events, it’s easy to see why there’s so many days. Heck. You could probably make it a week-long event if you wanted.

Cooking classes? Check. Mushroom hunting? Check. Mushroom dyeing? Check. Art and fungi? Check. A mycological poetry show? Check. Lectures on how psilocybin can help battle drug addiction? Check. Mushroom movies? Check.

We really should be asking, “What can’t you do at a mushroom festival?”

While lectures like Mushroom Hunting 101 and Mushroom Dyeing Basics are free and open to the public, you’ll have to purchase festival passes for activities like edible mushroom forays and cooking with mushroom classes. Now, if you’re really a mushroom fan, you’ll get the special event tickets where you can take a mushroom cultivating workshop and Wild Foods Dinner. The world is your mushroom, folks.

For more information, visit

Amanda Push


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