mushrooms

The small city of Cave Spring will play host to an unusual event in May.

Educational? Yes. Entertaining? Certainly. Unusual? Undoubtedly.

The Georgia Mushroom Festival returns to Cave Spring May 1 and 2 and brings with it a variety of activities you may not find anywhere else.

There’ll be mycologists (a microbiologist who specializes in the study and research of the microorganism fungi), drum circles, ultraviolet nighttime forays into the woods and of course lots and lots of mushrooms.

Claudia Littrell said she’s been planning this festival since 2019. It’s been postponed, then rescheduled twice, and now finally set for May 1 and 2.

“I’ve been talking to different mycologist groups all over the country, especially the Mushroom Club of Georgia and we’ve been coordinating with each other. We finally agreed on the first weekend of May and we think it will be a great event,” Littrell said.

And there are two different aspects to the weekend’s festivities. The first is primarily educational. The festival itself will take place at Rolater Park in Cave Spring and will feature a Psilocybin panel discussion, mushroom education, mycologist-guided forays and a walk with Alan Rockefeller where participants can learn about good mushroom photography.

Presentations will include “Bugs, Slugs & Mushroom Thugs” by Bill Yule; “Common & Uncommon Summer Mushrooms” by Jay Justice; “Mushroom Cultivation” by Allen Carroll, owner of Fungi Farm, LLC; “Introduction to ascomycete fungi” by Roo Vandergrift; and “Truffle Cultivation” by Dr. Matthew Smith.

On the first day of the festival, visitors can attend a photo expo with Alan Rockefeller and get some tips on good mushroom photography, then experience “Nighttime fluorescent mushrooming.”

“But we’ve been hearing from lots of people that we need music,” Littrell said. “So I had an idea to add a music portion to the festival and that’s what we’re calling the Magic Mushroom Music Jam. It will be held at the same location as the annual motorcycle rally and runs from 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, May 1. There will be drum circles, Native American music and lots of great bands from all around the region.”

This is the entertainment portion of the festival and will take place at a 14-acre field four miles outside Cave Spring. Littrell said a staging company out of Atlanta will be setting up a stage and lights to provide a great setting for all the music. There will also be vendors selling food.

Bands from across the country and locally will include Old 40 from Denver, Colorado, Happy Bones from Augusta, Russell Cook & the Sweet Teeth from Rome, Astral Muse Man from Atlanta and Trees United Family Band out of Nashville.

There will also be a community breakfast at 8 a.m. on May 2.

“In years prior we’d normally go from (Rolater) park to the Pinhoti trail to do a foray there,” Littrell said. “But this year we’ll stay on the same property the festival is using and we’ll go across Big Cedar Creek on another walk after the breakfast. We’ll go into the woods again and come back for more programs in the park. And of course people can bring back mushrooms they found on the walk for identification.”

For those who don’t know a lot about mushrooms, Littrell said the first day of the festival would be a great opportunity to learn about them. She said the programs and activities may not be much fun for younger children, but older kids are welcome to participate.

“If you’re a beginner in the world of mushrooms, then Saturday is a good day to learn a lot about them and to get your feet wet,” she said. “We want everyone to have a good time and most importantly this event is about educating the public.”

For tickets and additional information, visit the festival’s web site at https://georgiamushroomfestival.com/ and the music jam’s web site at https://georgiamushroomfestival.com/magic-mushroom-music-jam-2

Guests are asked to wear a mask during the event.

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