Fungi festival makes its return

A unique Shuswap event is being cultivated for a comeback.

Mushroom tour: The Fungi Festival is set for Sept. 23 to 25. File photo

A unique Shuswap event is being cultivated for a comeback.

An effort is underway to bring back the Sicamous-based Fungi Festival – an event that offers participants a chance to learn about, hunt for and dine upon the fabulous local fungi species native to the area. It was also an opportunity to kick back, listen to music and share in a unique Shuswap experience.

A popular draw for more than a decade, the festival went into hiatus last year after former organizer, Peter Steiner, decided to back away from the event, hoping someone would take it over.

This year, that someone is Sicamous resident Deb Heap, who is working with the District of Sicamous to bring back the event in a way that respects the festival’s roots, but also welcomes new elements that make the event more community-oriented.

“I’m really hoping to encourage a lot of the local businesses to get more involved,” said Heap. “With Peter, the Narrows Village was the host and so it was really kind of his gig… I want this to be a legacy event that’s kind of a tribute to him, but also builds on that and becomes more of a community event for all the businesses and the community.”

In addition to the tours and presentations at the Red Barn, Heap says plans for this year’s festival include an event at 200 Main St. that will be more family-friendly during the day, and include an opportunity to “sample the Shuswap” with food tasting, a cooking class and maybe a cook off.

“Later in the day, we’ll kind of get into the beer garden, music and that…, you don’t have kids at the beer gardens, but a lot of the day stuff, absolutely, the kids would be welcome and then the tours, if you want to sign your kids up, sure, why not.”

The timing of the Fungi Festival, scheduled to run Sept. 23 to 25, is important, says Heap, as it opens opportunities when doors are otherwise beginning to close for the shoulder season.

“It’s a really critical event for the town and, ultimately, I really see it kind of leveraging into other things making that whole season longer, with the salmon run, harvest, wineries, all these things,” said Heap.

Volunteers are needed to help run this year’s event, and Heap hopes to establish a volunteer Fungi Festival committee that can keep the momentum going once it gets started again.

For more information or to volunteer, call Deb Heap at 250-836-0116 or Jamie Sherlock at 250-803-8742.