Mushroom Festival: 'They have always been magical'

EUGENE, Ore. -- Hundreds flocked to the Mount Pisgah Arboretum in spite of the soggy Sunday weather for the annual Mushroom Festival, which has become a mycological institution for people across the northwest.

Local resident Peggy Staalberg's tradition is to dress in a mushroom costume to the event. This year she is the Amanita Muscaria.

"I've always been drawn to them. They have always been magical and cute, happy, fun, and joyful," said Staalberg. "Many people have tales about them, they're dangerous, they're poisonous, but they're magical, too."

Festival organizer Bruce Newhouse said that around 5,000 people were expected to attend the 33rd annual festival.

"We are by far the biggest mushroom show on the west coast. We're kind of proud of that," said Newhouse.

He said there are about 350 varieties of mushrooms on display at the event. While the fungus might have been the centerpiece of the festival, organizers made sure that there were plenty of other experiences for people as well.

From live music performances and art installations to hay rides and a scarecrow contest, the Mushroom Festival had fall entertainment for the whole family.

The hard-working food vendors made sure that everyone left with a full stomach.

"Oh, this mushroom soup is so good. We wait all year for it," said Beth Sherschun.

Anne Forrestel, the president of the Mt. Pisgah Association, said the event is their largest fund raiser for the 209-acre arboretum.

"The arboretum is a community treasure and all of us together are what keep it going," said Forrestel.