Mushrooms make a comeback this weekend in Morgan Hill

Free festival 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This weekend, mushrooms are the fungus you will see. You can
barbecue them, boil them, broil them, bake them, saute them.
There’s mushroom soup, stuffed mushrooms, Portobello, crimini,
shitake, oyster, mushrooms on a stick, mushrooms with chicken,
mushrooms with beef. They come fresh, whole, halved or fried.
This weekend, mushrooms are the fungus you will see. You can barbecue them, boil them, broil them, bake them, saute them. There’s mushroom soup, stuffed mushrooms, Portobello, crimini, shitake, oyster, mushrooms on a stick, mushrooms with chicken, mushrooms with beef. They come fresh, whole, halved or fried.

South County’s star produce product is making a comeback at Mushroom Mardi Gras Saturday and Sunday at Morgan Hill’s 32rd Memorial Weekend festival.

During the planning stages the local Rotary Club met with the Mushroom Grower’s Association to revitalize the edible for which the celebration was named after in 1979.

“They will sell mushrooms at the festival in bulk. We’ll have mushroom soup and mushroom displays showing how they’re grown,” said the festival board’s president Dan Sullivan. “We’ve been looking forward to (the return of more mushrooms) for a long time.”

The mushroom badge of honor hails from the fact that 60 percent of California’s mushroom production (second in the nation) comes from Santa Clara and Monterey counties. The valley produces more than 20,000 tons of mushrooms worth $50 million each season thanks in part to the representatives on hand this weekend: Monterey Mushrooms, South Valley Mushrooms, Royal Oaks Mushrooms all of Morgan Hill; B&D Mushrooms, San Martin Mushrooms, Countryside Mushrooms and Global Mushrooms of San Martin and Gilroy.

Also in the same fungi frame of mind, 17 local restaurants will offer mushroom specials this weekend and a portion of sales will benefit service projects and charities of the Morgan Hill Rotary Club.

“The restaurants were very pleased to have the opportunity to get more involved,” said Rosy Bergin, who owns Rosy’s at the Beach and Bubbles and has organized the effort on behalf of the restaurant community and Rotary. “It is also for a great cause.”

The free two-day Mardi Gras-themed fair at the Community and Cultural Center starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and is touted as a family- and kid-friendly event complete with children’s rides and games at Munchkin Land near the Caltrain parking lot on Depot Street. Booths selling Mardi Gras arts and crafts, promoting local businesses and nonprofit organizations will line Depot Street, Third Street Promenade and much of the community center’s parking lot and open sidewalks.

But, if mushrooms aren’t your favorite fungus, a spread of fair foods are available for sale, too. Beer and wine will also be sold until 30 minutes before the Mardi Gras shuts down at 7 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday.

A range of local bands, from The Sun Kings, a Beatles Tribute Band, to Shane Dwight playing the blues, to an instrument-only performance by Drum-OFF, will entertain Mardi Gras goers at the amphitheater all day, both days.

For the first time in a long time, the festival will crown Mr. Fungi and Miss Shroom in the hometown pageant at 1 p.m. on the a main stage Saturday.

Last year, an estimated 80,000 people visited downtown for Mushroom Mardi Gras, but the festival isn’t competing with another summertime food fair from down the road.

“There’s no need for that. We don’t want to be as big as the Gilroy Garlic Festival, well, because of the logistics,” Sullivan said with a laugh. “Our board’s goal is to put on a quality event and what that does is encourage people to come. There’s a lot to do, a lot of good arts and crafts, good food and nice weather always helps.” Saturday is expected to be 68 degrees and mostly sunny; Sunday has an anticipated high of 73 with few clouds. No rain is expected, according to weather reports.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the weekend is that the revenue generated is kept in the community, Sullivan said, and the $40,000 in scholarships the committee has awarded this year to high school students in Morgan Hill.

Many community groups, such as the Live Oak volleyball team or Lions Club or Boy Scouts, use the Mardi Gras as the fundraiser to carry them through the next year.

“The better the event, the more people that come, the more money goes to helping the community,” Sullivan said.

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Saturday’s lineup

10 a.m. Bloody Mary Morning, light/classic rock – main stage (community center amphitheater)

10 a.m. Top Shelf, classic rock/blues – Music Tree stage (Fourth and Depot streets)

11:15 a.m. Music Tree Student Performances – Music Tree stage

11:30 a.m. Bell Brothers, country rock – main stage

11:45 a.m. JJ Hawg, classic rock – Music Tree stage

1 p.m. Presentation of scholarship recipients – main stage

1 p.m. Bass-OFF, instrumental – Music Tree stage

1:30 p.m. Mark St. Mary, zydeco – main stage

1:30 p.m. Vital Signs, southern rock – Music Tree stage

3 p.m. Los Koras del Norte, Spanish – Music Tree stage

3:30 p.m. Red Beans & Rice, blues – main stage

4:30 p.m. Blue Dog, blues – Music Tree stage

5:30 p.m. The Sun Kings – main stage

Sunday’s lineup

10 a.m. Reincarnated Revival, country – main stage

10 a.m. Psalm 44 Ministries, Christian worship – Music Tree stage

10:45 a.m. Pacific West Christian Academy, children’s worship – Music Tree Stage

11:30 a.m. The Brothers Comatose, bluegrass – main stage

11:45 a.m. Just Picked String Band – Music Tree stage

1 p.m. Drum-OFF, instrumental – Music Tree stage

1 p.m. Presentation of scholarship recipients – main stage

1:30 p.m. Shane Dwight, blues – main stage

1:30 p.m. Time & Pressure, alternative – Music Tree stage

3 p.m. Kelly McDonald, country – Music Tree stage

4 p.m. Aja Vu, Steely Dan tribute – main stage

4:30 p.m. SugaDaddy, dance – Music Tree stage

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