STORY WRITTEN BY FRAN MAYE
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KENNETT SQUARE >> A free symphony concert, a cooking demonstration from a famous TV chef, a community parade, an antique classic car show, a mushroom-eating contest and carnival rides are just some of the events on top for the 30th annual Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square Sept. 12 and Sept. 13.
“We’re expecting 100,000 people,” said Chris Alonzo, Mushroom Festival spokesman. “We are one of the largest festivals in the country and we will have people coming in from all over. We have a ton of stuff for people to do.”
Alonzo said 180 vendors have been secured this year, featuring everything from mushroom ice cream, mushroom sculptures, mushroom jewelry, grilled portabellas, pizza, sausage and onion sandwiches, mushroom soup, and much more.
The festival officially kicks off with a parade at State and Willow streets at 6 p.m. Sept. 11. This year’s theme is We Remember, a tribute to the volunteer and professional Emergency Service personnel who are always there to help us when we need them most.
Some of the events scheduled Saturday are the amateur mushroom appetizer contest at 10:30 a.m. in the special events tens, an antique and classic car show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and an appearance by chef Fabio Viviani are just some of the highlights. Viviani is from Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” series and he will make two appearances on the kitchen stage Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and again at 3 p.m.
Also on Saturday at 3 p.m., the fourth National Fried Mushroom Eating Championship takes place. It’s a great spectator event as professional eaters and amateurs alike vie to break the world record of 11.5 pounds of fried breaded mushrooms in eight minutes set just last year. Molly Schuyler, last year’s eating champ, will return this year.
At 11 a.m. in the special events tent, guests will vote for the best mushroom soup in the region and will be able to sample the area’s local wines.
The classic car show is a festival favorite. If you have a classic car, pre-registration is open until Sept. 4 for $15 and open registration the day of the event is $20. The first 100 registrants receive a T-shirt, dash plaque and one admission wristband and a free package of mushrooms.
Later Saturday night in the special events tent, there will be a free concert as the regionally acclaimed Kennett Symphony of Chester County presents “American Flair!” The concert is a celebration of the Mushroom Festival’s three decades of success and the kick-off to the Kennett Symphony’s 75th season.
Sunday kicks off with a Mushroom Run and Fun Walk along the Red Clay Creek. The race begins at 8:30 a.m. The annual 5K run and two-mile walk starts and finished in front of Kennett High School, passing a few of the area’s mushroom farms along the way. Online pre-registration is open until Sept. 10 for $20. Registration on race day is $25. Admission wristbands are included with registration. Prizes will be awarded, and beverages and snacks are provided.
Also on Sunday, Chef Brian Duffy of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue” will take the kitchen stage at noon and 3 p.m. for special cooking demonstrations.
Entries for the Cute-as-a-Button contest will be accepted through Sept. 4. Take a photo of your baby (6 months up to 3 years old) and send it in with the registration form available at www.mushroomfestival.org.
Other activities include live music throughout the festival, a mushroom grower’s exhibit, and a silent auction for the popular concrete painted mushrooms.