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Mushroom festival returns to Coombs

Displays, talks, mushroom identification and more

Sally Soans, President of the Arrowsmith Naturalists said local mushrooms, and what to do with them, will be a focus at this year’s mid-Island mushroom festival.

The event takes place on Sunday, Oct. 27 at the Coombs Fair Grounds for the first time, rather than at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.

The event will feature food trucks, a variety of edible mushrooms and lectures on mushrooms and how to identify them.

In addition, people can bring in any mushrooms they’ve found and have questions about to the festival grounds on Saturday, where a team of mycologists will work together to identify them. The process will carry over to Sunday, which is when you can come back and learn about your mushroom — including if it’s safe to eat, how to use it and if you can sell it.

READ MORE: Mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms

Soans said there are “almost hundreds of different kinds” of mushrooms on Vancouver Island.

Some, she said, are very valuable, while others are extremely dangerous. To people interested in entering the mushroom picking scene, Soans said her main piece of advice is — never pick alone.

She also said identification and mushroom knowledge is especially on people’s minds after the death of a Victoria puppy earlier this fall. Soans said there’s conflicting opinions on some poisonous mushrooms in the area.

Specifically, if the death cap mushroom, a fatal mushroom popular across Europe, is in this area.

“If you’re at all worried about whatever you have, bring it in,” Soans said. “If you pick one that is poisonous by mistake and put it in with the other mushrooms, you’ve contaminated the whole lot, so you really really have to watch what you’re doing.”

READ MORE: Victoria puppy dies after consuming poisonous mushrooms

More information on wild mushroom picking and identification will be available at the festival. There will be one speaker who will focus just on poisonous mushrooms, while Top Chef Canada’s Paul Moran talk will focus on foraging.

Suggested donation to the event is $5 for people age 16 and up, all proceeds going towards the Mushroom Festival and the Arrowsmith Naturalists Club.

It will go from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m at the Coombs Fairgrounds at 1014 Ford Rd.

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