31st annual Mushroom Festival: 'They are fascinating'

EUGENE, Ore. - For the 31st year, staff at Mount Pisgah Arboretum just south of Eugene invited the community to come out Sunday and enjoy the annual Mushroom Festival.

Thousands came out to the arboretum to enjoy the food, fun attractions and also buy some mushrooms and plants to take home.

While toadstools were a topic on everyone's tongues, the real fungus fans talked about the late arrival of rain this year.

For mushroom farmers like Dustin Olsen, the rainy Sunday weather was a welcomed addition to the festival.

"The season is running really late and now they say we are going to have a colder than normal winter so it's going to be a short season." said Olsen

The drier weather might have wild mushroom spores on the decline, however Olson said that it provides a huge opportunity for people in his industry.

"Outside weather doesn't affect the mushroom farming which is great. Everything is all indoors climate controlled. It helps the cultivated mushrooms sales."

Organizers said that there were fewer mushrooms harvested for the festival because of the drier environment.

In spite of that fact Eugene's Mushroom Fest still boasts the largest mushroom display on the West Coast. Mushroom expert Debbie Viess said that there are half a dozen new species added to the collection because of the dry conditions.

"One particular Leptonious species with a blue stem that no one has seen here before. In fact it might be an undescribed species," Viess said. "They are beautiful, they are fascinating and they don't stick around."

Over 250 volunteers made the Mushroom Festival possible this year. Organizers said that the festival is one of the largest fundraisers for Mount Pisgah Arboretum.

The event was presented in conjunction with Lane Community College and the Cascade Mycological Society.