Well at last we made it to the Bamfield Mushroom Festival!! Those of you who know us know that hunting for wild mushrooms is a new found love – especially for Aaron. Some time ago we found out about the Bamfield Mushroom Festival on the west coast of Vancouver Island and ever since Aaron has been counting the days to the guided forays, mushroom derby, and of course the feast. For the past 7 years lovers of fungi and curious newbies gather every fall in the small coastal town to share hunting stores, learn from mushroom guru Jim Jones, compare finds at the mushroom derby, and enjoy the subsequent feast and mushroom stomp with the local live band. We headed up with good friends and family via the bumpy logging roads and did some hunting along the way. Aaron has an incredible sense for finding mushrooms. I am not sure how he does it but we would be driving along doing the downhill slalom equivalent of pothole evasion at 70km and he would grind to a halt because somehow he managed to spot a chanterelle on the side of the road. The trip up offered us the following tasty treats – Hypomyces lactifluorum (Lobster), Cantharellus formosus (golden chanterelle), Sparassis crispa (cauliflower), and Lycoperdon perlatum (gemmed puffball). Let’s just say we had a good dinner! We were fortunate to have booked our accommodation at Woods End Landing which is also the home of one of the festival planners and pancake breakfast chef Terri Giddens. Our cabin was fantastic and it was an added bonus that it was in West Bamfield which had a beautiful beach, board walk and the stray cat house village – you also have to take a boat to get there which was an added adventure. We started the festival with a survey of the specimens on the display table and a walk with guru Jim. I loved his unabashed love of edible mushrooms. His response to inedible mushrooms “They are nice to look at but you can’t eat them so I don’t care. I leave that to the scientists.” In a very short walk we found so many specimens and it was very cool to share our interest with so many people. Jim is a great teacher and story teller and our time with him went too quickly. We then left mushroom Jim to hunt for entries for the Derby. This years’ categories were: Monster (largest), Largest Bolete, Largest King Bolete, Largest Chanterelle, Largest Pine. Everyone who enters is eligible for an additional draw. Aaron found a good sized chanterelle we thought might have a chance but there were some very good hunters and in the end our days adventure was the reward. The evening found us at the mushroom feast – and a feast it was! All the food was made from scratch by local chef’s and was incredible. I am still dreaming about the wild mushroom gravy! Four of us then headed to the mushroom stomp – a dance held at the local firehall and featuring live music by “The Broken Group”. The music was great and they had everyone dancing including several Amanita muscaria which was quite a site. We were sad to go home but the journey delivered many more ‘shrooms – so many that we had to buy a dehydrator so we could dry and store all the lobster mushrooms. We will definitely be back, probably every year, and hopefully with more converts to the wonderful world of mushroom hunting. Thanks to Jim Jones and all those volunteers who put the festival on – and to Dennis, Sue, Ivo, and Carinna for supporting our nerdy side for an “amazing” weekend.
Emmy with her first Sparassis crispa
Aaron brushing up on Bolete identification
Aaron’s first King Bolete!
West Bamfield Boardwalk
Aaron identifying a mushroom with Guru Jim.
Emmy’s little Amanita
Dennis and Sue learning from Guru Jim on the mushroom walk.