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Kennett Square Mushroom Festival Returns For Its 27th Year, September 7-9

For the 27th year, the festival glorifies the humble fungi with three days of live entertainment, a mushroom soup cook-off, live cooking demos by top chefs, an old-fashioned carnival and much more. (Photos by G. Widman for GPTMC)

Mushroom lovers across the nation will converge once again in historic Kennett Square, the mushroom capital of the world, for the annual Kennett Square Mushroom Festival, September 7-9.

For the 27th year running, the festival celebrates everything and anything mushroom. Take a look at our guide to the festival, below, so you won’t miss a thing all weekend long.

Kennett Square, the Chester County town right in Philadelphia’s backyard, grows an incredible 65% of the nation’s mushroom crop. There’s no other region in the entire world that grows as many mushrooms in a concentrated area.

Dates and Times
Friday, September 7: Community Parade kicks off at 6 p.m. The 2012 Parade Theme is “Mushrooms on Parade,” and the route heads up Broad from Birch, turns left on State and ends at Center Street.
Saturday, September 8: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, September 9: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Old Fashioned Carnival
On Friday from 6-11 p.m., Saturday from 3-11 p.m. and Sunday from 1-6 p.m., take part in an old-fashioned carnival featuring rides, and games and all your favorite carnival foods. It takes place at the Genesis Parking Lot on the corner of South Union and South Streets, with entrance on Broad Street. Parking is available at the Kennett High School (100 E. South Street).

Street Fair
Nearly 200 vendors from all over the country will line the streets with arts, crafts, food and more, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday. Restaurants in the downtown area will prepare their mushroom specialty dishes. The festival spans from Willow Street to Garfield Street. Check out the list of vendors, broken down by block, here.

2012 Guest Chefs
Top Chef’s Antonia Lofaso is packing her knives for Kennett Square, where she’ll share a few mushroom dishes as the first in a fantastic lineup of Guest Chefs in the Culinary Tent. Also appearing is Dana Herbert, winner of TLC’s Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker. Regional chefs spending time at the Mushroom Festival include Steve Latona, Darryl Harmon and Barry Sexton. Some guest chefs will have cookbooks for sale. Click here to see the complete schedule of cooking demos.

Foodie Events
In addition to the chef demos, there are a bunch of foodie opportunities to indulge your fungi-phile.

Amateur Mushroom Soup Cook-Off: Saturday, September 8, 10:30 a.m. At the Special Events Tent at Willow and E. State Streets, watch six contestants prepare their version of mushroom soup and see which one takes the prize as the Best Mushroom Soup of 2012.

Fried Mushroom Eating Championship: Saturday, September 8, 1:30 p.m. The first ever National Fried Mushroom Eating Championship features 16 mushrooming-loving contestants battling to consume the most mushrooms. Cheer on these brave souls and be part of the action as history is made and a record for consuming the most fried mushrooms is set. Starts at 1:30 p.m. at the Special Events Tent at Willow Street and E. State Street.

2012 Soup and Wine Event: Sunday, September 9, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Local restaurants compete for the title (and bragging rights) to be 2012′s Best Mushroom Soup, while wineries battle for the title of 2012 Best Red Wine and 2012 Best White Wine. Sample the soup and wines, listen to some great local music, relax with friends and before you leave place your vote for this year’s best. It takes place at the Special Events Tent at Willow Street and E. State Street. Admission is $15 for Soup and 5 Wine Tasting tickets, $10 Soup only.

Live Music
On Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (until 3:30 p.m. on Sunday), enjoy live music from regional musicians under the Big Tent near the West Entrance on W. State Street. The full schedule is available right here. The tent is new this year, and means you’ll be able to cool off in the shade or get shelter from the rain if the weather acts up.

Farm Tours
Only once a year does the public get the opportunity to tour a working mushroom farm, and that’s during the Mushroom Festival. Visitors board a bus and are taken to one of the local farms where the mushroom growers walk you through their growing process. Timed tickets are sold on both Saturday and Sunday from the corner of N. Union and Linden streets.

Admission to the festival is $2 per person (ages 12 and up). Proceeds from the sale of admission wristbands goes toward the Mushroom Festival’s grant program. Last year the Mushroom Festival gave $55,000 to 33 non-profit organizations! Wristbands may be purchased in advance at The Mushroom Cap (114 W. State Street, Kennett Square), at the Mushroom Festival parking lots (while waiting for the shuttle buses) or at the entrances to the Festival.

How To Get There
Directions to Kennett Square from all areas are available online. Parking (there are three lots) is $5 and includes free shuttle bus to the Street Fair. Lawn signs direct visitors to the parking lots as they near town.

And all of that? That’s not all. You can participate in the Mushroom Run/Walk on Sunday (race starts and finishes in front of Kennett High School on South Street; registration opens at 7 a.m. and race starts at 8:30 a.m.) or ooh and ahh at the Painted Mushrooms Silent Auction (eight very talented local artists took the challenge this year to create one-of-a-kind works of art from a 108-lb., three-foot tall, concrete mushroom).

There’s also a slew of non-mushroom related events, including an Antique and Classic Car Show, with dozens of beautifully restored and unique cars lining Broad Street on Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; plus, check out the Remote Control Air Show Sunday at 10 a.m. when the best of the best in model aeronautics take flight on the front lawn of Kennett High School (enter from S. Union Street).

Be sure to check out one of our old Philly Homegrown videos about the Kennett Square Mushroom. Plus, we’ve included a map of the festival grounds below. Have fun(gi)!

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