Disney characters, premium wines and some larger-than-life chefs are some of the highlights of Morgan Hill’s 37th annual Mushroom Mardi Gras celebration this weekend. For the first time, the Mardi Gras will include a premium wine tasting event where you can sample wines from four of the South Valley’s best wineries.

Among the famous chefs exhibiting their culinary prowess is Central Valley’s Albert Hernandez, AKA The Untamed Chef. Chef Hernandez has won many cooking competitions and worked with a variety of professional chefs including,Iron Chef America Champions Beau MacMillan and Laurent Tourondel.

Sakabozzo, a famous duo with celebrity chef status will be at Mushroom Mardi Gras showcasing their kitchen talents. Playfully referred to as twins separated at birth, Gene Sakahara and Sam Bozzo have been performing together as ‘Sakabozzo’ at festivals around the world and on several local television programs, including GavTV.

Ten-year-old Alexis Higgins from Season 3 of Fox’s MasterChef Jr. will be giving a cooking demonstration. At 8, she appeared on the show as one of the youngest contestants.

Alexis lives in Gilroy and loves cooking Italian food.

Chef Steve Caposio is a Morgan Hill resident, business owner and winner of The Food Network’s Season 12 Cutthroat Kitchen. The South Bay chef beat out the other contestants in the three-round show preparing a crabcake benedict, a gyro and a rhubarb pie. Caposio is also a star of the movie The Biggest Game in Town, set for release in June.

Patti Tartaglia, is a holistic nutritionist and owner of Patti’s Perfect Pantry in Morgan Hill. Patti’s has won several awards, including Best Small Bakery and Best Small Business. Patti’s also offers top-notch gluten-free fare.

On Sunday, the festival will also feature the Mushroom Mayhem Kid’s Cooking Contest.

This is Morgan Hill’s biggest weekend, when thousands of people stream to the city to have fun with fungi, as they have for the past 36 years.

“It’s an annual free festival we put on to raise money for scholarships and education. It’s great family fun,” says executive director Sunday Minnich.

Mushroom Mardi Gras is a huge party with arts, crafts and hot live bands. Disney characters such as Anna and Elsa (from Frozen), as well as Jasmine and Aladdin will be hanging with the crowds and Peter Pan will be doing free balloon art for the kids.

You can shop til you drop at row after row of artisan booths including designer Steampunk jewelry, blown glass creations, handmade ceramics, fine wood work, original paintings and other whimsical items for your home or garden.

Get down to music on two stages featuring Sonic from NBC’s The Voice, Los Gatos rock and soul band The Houserockers, and classic rock from Morgan Hill’s JJ Hawg.

For the kids there is Munchkinland, where they can enjoy rides, games, a petting zoo, and live entertainment on the Munchkinland stage. Older kids can try traversing the rock climbing wall or getting some air on Eurobungee trampolines.
Whether it’s the specialty food, one-of-a-kind art, great music, or checking out the awards ceremony honoring Brad Spencer, the festival’s founder, Mushroom Mardi Gras is sure to please. What’s the one thing that keeps this event on people’s calendars? Says Minnich: “People usually come back for the gourmet food.”

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