Shroomfest pre


Over 200 mushroom festival attendees and onlookers take over Main Street at a past festival. This year's parade will be held Saturday, Aug. 20, and start at 4 p.m. (Courtesy photo) 

Organizers are less than a month away from one of the most unique festivals in Telluride, the Telluride Mushroom Festival (TMF). The festival will be held from Aug. 17 through Aug. 21 and has been a Telluride staple since 1981. It is the largest mushroom festival held in North America. Last year, the festival sold out for the first time in history. 

"For this year, we have even more of everything. A lot more forays are planned. Two live bands instead of one. More cooking demos. Basically, what's new is more of everything!" said Executive Director of TMF, Dr. Britt A. Bunyard.

The lineup includes 40 featured presenters, two live bands, and more than 100 events scheduled. According to Bunyard, during the festival, everywhere you look, you will see "mushroomy things."

The festival will cover everything under the mycelium sun, including foraging, medical research, and psychedelics. 

"The TMF started out as a psychedelics conference 42 years ago and has kept that as a central theme for discussion ever since, even when it was totally taboo, much less cool. Each year we showcase clinicians doing cutting edge research at institutions like the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and others," said Bunyard.

Not only is Telluride a beautiful place for any festival, but it is the perfect place for the mushroom festival because of the abundance of mushrooms that grow throughout the region. In 2021, the area was filled with mushrooms. This season, Ashley Coady Smith and Teal Stetson-Lee, co-operations managers of the festival, believe there will be fewer mushrooms in terms of volume; however, the various different types of mushrooms found in the area are still substantial and unique. 

"We've had an amazing summer with all this moisture, and I think it's probably going to bode well for another killer mushroom season," said Stetson-Lee. 

Tickets for the festival are still available, and Smith does not see this as a negative. She explained that last year they had to turn people away because they were sold out; however, this year, it is likely someone can join in the festival activities and purchase tickets last minute. 

Since the festival's inception, the TMF has made an effort to include the Telluride community in the festivities. Throughout the week this year, there will be plenty of free events for locals and visitors without tickets. Free events include Cultivation programs with local Kris Holstrom, Mushrooms for Beginners, free movies, and of course, the iconic parade.  

For the first time this year, TMF will partner with the Ah Haa School for the Arts for costume workshops led by a professional costume maker. The first official workshop will be from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, and the second will be a more spontaneous, pop-in event at the park from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., right before the parade.

The parade gives festival attendees the opportunity to share and display their love for mushrooms in a creative and fun way. In addition to the parade, Smith and Stetson-Lee agreed that they were looking forward to Wild Food Tasting with Katrina Blair on Friday. Tickets for that event were posted in April and sold out almost immediately. 

"She (Blair) has been foraging her way to the Telluride Mushroom Festival for 14 years from Durango. She knows so much about plants and all of the things you can eat even just in your own landscaping, and then she takes all of that and folds it into this amazing meal. Then, as she prepares, she does a whole presentation about wild foods," said Stetson-Lee 

For Bunyard, one of his favorite parts of the festival is the late-night party and live entertainment event because it features appearances from national and regional poets and performances. 

The Telluride Mushroom Festival is unlike any other and attracts a unique and passionate group of people filling the town with their funky costumes and passion for Mycology. 

"Festivals tend to bring together communities with people, but what underlies this festival is a mycelium web," Stetson-Lee added.

For tickets, a full schedule, and more information, visit tellurideinstitute.org.