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Annual Cumberland Fungus Fest set to bloom

The annual Cumberland Fungus Fest offers three days of fungus-themed fun and education. Photo supplied

The fourth annual Cumberland Fungus Fest is just around the corner and organizers are getting ready for an exciting three-day interdisciplinary celebration of all things fungus.

This coming Sept. 28-30, mycophiles from across the Salish Sea region will descend on the village of Cumberland for guided walks, talks and workshops, specimen tables, panels, art events, films, music and celebration of the multi faceted world of fungi. Presented by the Cumberland Community Forest Society, the annual Cumberland Fungus Fest has become a much anticipated stop on the fall fungus fest circuit and recent rains and cool nights bode well for the ‘blooming’ of the fungi, where the fruiting bodies of fungi emerge from the forest floor.

Things kick off on Thursday, Sept. 28 with a school engagement program followed by hands-on after school activities from 3-4:30 at Fungus Fest HQ (outside Harmonic Arts at 2660 Dunsmuir Ave. in Cumberland) and a series of guided walks featuring special guests experts from across Vancouver Island. Then at 4:30 festival attendees are invited for “Mushrooms & Mortality: Death Discussions” exploring the themes of natural burial, decomposition, psilocybin therapy at end of life, medicinal mushrooms and herbs for grief and loss, and much more.

Thursday night offers a fun-filled “Fungus Science Pub ” with a panel of fungus knowledge holders sharing their insights about fungus, life, the universe and everything at the Cumberland Cultural Center.

Friday Sept. 29 is the heart of the festival, with programming kicking off at 9 a.m. and running till the late hours. Attendees can learn about cultivation, regenerative farming and the connection between fungi and soil health. Panels delve into “Mushrooms, Death, and Harm Reduction” as local counsellors, harm reduction support workers, and advocates share a discussion about the emerging practices for trauma therapy, counselling, and end of life care.

Take in some lino block printing, wool dying, or basket weaving with invasive plants. Guided walks explore forest ecology, slime molds, forest oddballs and the role mushrooms play in carbon capture.

Friday night is the not-to-be missed part of the weekend where the “festival” part of Fungus Fest really shows its true colours. The Fungus Bazaar runs from 7-11 p.m. with an open air artisan craft market featuring wondrous and wild art, jewelry, sculpture and much more.

Inside the hall attendees will be in for a treat with musical performances from Stephen Hamm the Theremin Man and Space Junk Removal Service. Over at the covered area at Fungus Fest HQ there will be fungus-themed film screenings around the campfire.

Saturday Sept. 30, the program includes a “Fungus Connection Forest Waltz” family walk, talks, hands on workshops and a special drop in program called “ÑAWI: Weaving Andean Offerings for Reconciliation.” Join environmental artist Juliana Bedoya to explore woven sacred geometries using locally gathered plant materials considered invasive combined with colourful threads.

This is an invitation to engage in this creative practice as an act of reflection about the complex history of the ancestral lands we are on, in reference to participants’ own interwoven territories converging in the town of Cumberland and the Comox Valley at large. This program is being offered as part of National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

The final night of Fungus Fest (Saturday evening) is also the 1st Annual Cumberland Forest Feast presented in partnership with LUSH Valley. This feast will feature wildly delicious foods from local forests, farms and waters prepared by The Farmers Kitchen. Diners can expect a delicious variety of tastes, textures and tantalizing offerings from unusual quarters.

Tickets include a multi-course meal served family style (eight people per table), special elixir mocktail offerings and a delectable dessert. A silent auction featuring forest- and fungus-themed art, and live music will round out the evening offering. Tickets are $70 per person. Only 144 tickets are available for sale. Participants can also purchase a full table for eight while they last.

Guest presenters for this year’s fest include Andy MacKinnon, Dawn Copeman, Adrian Oberg, Candice Cullum of Full Baskets, Heather Soo, Kent Brothers, Arzeena Hamir, Jenn Laing and many more. Tickets to the Cumberland Fungus Fest are only $30 (and $5 for kids 16 and under) and offer an incredible selection of programming for all ages, passions and curiosities.

Ticket holders can then register for additional guided walks with links provided when they purchase their tickets.

Find out more about Cumberland Fungus Fest at All proceeds from the Cumberland Fungus Fest support the ongoing land protection and stewardship work of the Cumberland Community Forest Society. Fungus Fest is sponsored by Harmonic Arts, Cumberland Brewing Company and Elevate.