Sept. 29 and 30 were all about fish and fungus as the 14th Annual Salmon Mushroom Festival took over Centennial Hall.
Visitors from around Vancouver Island came to check out the many displays, taste samples of smoked salmon—donated by the Ditidaht First Nation. The salmon was prepared by Brock Windsor of the Stone Soup Inn. There were also a variety of mushroom soups and other dishes prepared by organizer Ingeborg Woodsworth and chef MaartenVanWamel, and the opportunity to shop from local vendors.
The weekend had much to offer, including mushroom slide shows, music, a raffle for mushroom growing kits and a two day mushroom workshop, and much more.
To coincide with the event, the Cow Cafe and Aroma offered mushroom dishes all weekend long to their customers, with seven varieties of mushrooms to choose from.
The crowds were not in the numbers some of the vendors would have liked to have seen, but they were steady. However, those who did attend certainly were passionate about mushrooms, wild salmon, and the environment.
Claudette Poirier and her partner Yvan Vallieres have been picking mushrooms for years, but this was their first time at the festival.
Poirier expressed a concern with conservation of mushroom varieties.
“There’s a phenomena in certain states in the U.S. where they have free education at the recreation centres and all the people go out and they just clear-cut all the mushrooms in the area. There’s no parent mushrooms left to spawn the new ones,” said Poirier.
She feels that educating the public about edible mushroom varieties can have it’s drawbacks as well.
“There’s a danger of promoting it too much,” she said.
Music was provided by Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Dream Band from North Vancouver. Arntzen and Wright sing songs that are mean to “rock your world” while at the same time provide entertainment that educates about ecology.
The band was introduced to Woodsworth by Bob Crandall, president of the Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society who passed along tickets to Woodsworth and her crew of volunteers to see the band earlier this year.
“And lo and behold they’re here! So that’s fun,” said Crandall.
Leanne Hodges is an artist from Cowichan Bay who was busy working on a painting during activities on the Saturday of the festival. The painting will be donated to the North Shore Coho Society and depicts wild salmon on a large 5’ by 4’ (approx) canvas.
Hodges says she hopes to collaborate on a mural project with Woodsworth at Mayo Creek Gardens sometime in the near future.
Go Wild! BC Salmon was on hand with a wide variety of free literature on the benefits of wild salmon, as well as recipes and information on where to purchase wild salmon.
Crandall says he was pleased with how the festival turned out this year.
“It’s better than last year I think. Just the way it’s laid out and the enthusiasm, it seems different, there’s more display, rather than all cash oriented. Especially from my end, we give away salmon.”
Woodsworth also feels the festival went very well this year.
“Despite the weather, excited,” she said. “Because I’m so happy to have Go Wild! [BC] Salmon aboard, and we are planning already for next year.”
She says the kitchen was sold out again this year and she had to spend Saturday evening cooking up more soup and other dishes for the Sunday part of the event. On Saturday, she explained, they had already sold 215 tickets, which also means that 215 people were entered into the draw for the mushroom kits and as well as the draw for two spots in her mushroom workshop, which will take place on Oct. 13.
“I am delighted with the response because it is a dry year, but just you wait and see, when the rain comes we are going to really have something,” said Woodsworth.