The Oregon Coast will cap off a great fall this weekend as the 20th annual Yachats Village Mushroom Fest gets underway, inviting mushroom lovers from near and far to indulge their culinary appetites, learn about mushrooms of all kinds and understand more about the roles of fungi in forest ecology.

From Friday, Oct. 18, through Sunday, Oct. 20, chefs at village restaurants will prepare special dishes featuring a variety of choice wild and cultivated mushrooms. On Saturday and Sunday, markets around town will offer wild and exotic cultivated mushrooms, both fresh and dried; mushroom tools; specialty products; mushroom-related books; and local arts and crafts. The Yachats Farmers Market will be open both days from 9 am to 2 pm.

“In addition to a culinary wonderland, the weekend brings an impressive array of fun and serious learning opportunities under the umbrella, ‘Ecology for Everyone,’” a title coined by one of the festival’s founders, Marla Gillham,” said festival coordinator Bev Wilson of the Yachats Chamber of Commerce. “These opportunities include a speakers’ forum, expert-led workshops and demonstrations, a mushrooms display, guided mushroom walks and a Cape Perpetua Community Science Bioblitz.”

Admission to the displays, walks and biobliz are all free, but the walks and bioblitz require pre-registration. As of press time, all 264 spaces in the walks had been filled. Although cancellations are rare, woud-be walkers can email to be placed on a waiting list.

The mushroom display will be held at the Yachats Lions Hall, provided and staffed by members of three mycological societies — Lincoln County Mycological Society, Cascade Mycological Society and North American Truffling Society, as well as by experts who assist in identification. Visitors will find fresh examples of both edible and toxic mushrooms here. In addition, 10-minute seminars will be offered covering important basics, such as how to do a spore print, how to tell the difference between chanterelles and false chanterelles, and how to identify different kinds of boletes.

A $5 festival wristband gives access to the speakers’ forum, workshops and demonstrations. Wristbands can be purchased on site during the festival weekend and one week in advance at the Yachats Visitors Center.

The speakers’ forum includes presentations by well-known mycologists Dr. Dan Luoma, Dr. Steven Carpenter, David Pilz, Dr. Matt Trappe and Dr. Charles LeFevre. It will be held from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday at the Yachats Community Presbyterian Church and then continue on Sunday at the Little Log Church, 328 W 3rd Street. See sidebar for details.

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