Mushroom Festival cancelled for 2020 due to pandemic

KENNETT SQUARE — For the first time in its history, the annual Kennett Square Mushroom Festival — scheduled this year for Sept. 12-13, 2020 — will be canceled, due to increasing safety concerns expressed by its Board of Directors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board’s decision to cancel this year’s festival dovetails with the nearly global cancellation of nearly all large-scale, highly-attended events of its kind around the world. Locally, however, Executive Director Kathi Lafferty said that the decision to cancel this year’s festival also stemmed from the financial impact the virus is having on the local mushroom industry.

“The mushroom industry has been hurt significantly, so it was very difficult for us to ask for sponsor money from our friends in the industry,” Lafferty said. “We’ve also found out that the normal events that our vendors participate in have also been cancelled, so although it was difficult, we came to the decision that it would just be best in everyone’s best interest – and health and safety — to just come back even stronger next year.”

The festival, which was to celebrate its 35th year in 2020, began in 1986 when a small group of mushroom enthusiasts wished to hold a public event to celebrate the impact of mushroom growing and mushroom product distribution in Kennett Square, which has long been known as “The Mushroom Capital of the World.”  From those beginnings – which encompassed a two-block distance, the Mushroom Festival has grown to a mile-long venue that draws an average of 100,000 visitors to Kennett Square on the second weekend in September, as well as a full line-up of events, exhibits, contests, children’s entertainment and more than 250 vendors.

Facilitated by its volunteer organizing committee, the Mushroom Festival has donated more than $1 million of its proceeds since 1986 to a wide variety of charities and organizations that benefit the residents of Kennett Square and the surrounding communities.

Despite the cancelation of its 2020 event, the impact of the Mushroom Festival will continue to be strong in the community this year. The festival’s Board of Directors have announced that $25,000 in grants raised from the proceeds of the 2019 festival will be disbursed throughout the Kennett Square community to help fund the efforts of those individuals and organizations who are assisting in the fight to slow the rate of the coronavirus. Contributions will also be made to local fire companies and first responders.

In addition, the festival will sponsor a Mushroom Soup and Wine Evening, which will be held on Oct. 15, as well as hold the annual New Year’s Mushroom Drop event on Dec. 31.

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