2020 Virtual Mushroom Festival in Review

It was mid-June; the normal time for the initial festival planning meeting between the Mount Pisgah Arboretum (MPA), the Cascade Mycological Society (CMS), and Lane Community College (LCC). So, we scheduled a Zoom call to decide what to do. Everyone was in agreement that our normal in person festival of thousands of people gathering in person was not an option. The Arboretum had recently conducted a a bioblitz on iNaturalist in place of their Spring Wildflower Festival. Surely we could organize a mushroom mycoblitz on iNaturalist, but how about an entire virtual festival? We soon embarked down a very long and winding road to pull together enough video to be streamed during the normally scheduled hours of the festival. In the end we had over 8 hours of content including presentations by some well known mycologists, cooking demonstrations, mushroom forays, and mushroom art demonstrations; all interspersed with some lively music by Satori Bob.

We also had an Expert ID Zoom room where anyone could pop in and ask for a mushroom ID, ask a question, or show us their talents ( if you were there you know what I am talking about). Kids of all ages could enjoy numerous educational videos and mushroom oriented nature activities on the MPA Resources page and online interactive activities on the CMS Fungi Education page. You will find the full line up of speakers here. And, you can purchase many of the videos on the Mount Pisgah Arboretum shop (perhaps a great Christmas gift).

A big thank you goes out to all of our Myco Star Speakers, to Noah Siegel who was the Expert Mushroom Identifier for the Mycoblitz event, and the Virtual Festival Organizing committee: Brad van Appel (MPA), August Jackson (MPA), Susie Holmes (LCC), Bruce Newhouse & Peg Boulay (CMS), Chris Melotti (CMS), Cheshire Mayrsohn (CMS), Dr. Roo Vandegrift (CMS), and Sandy Patton (CMS).

Bruce Newhouse and Susie Holmes organized the iNaturalist (iNat) mycoblitz which ran from October 16th- October 24th. Using the iNat platform was a relatively easy way to continue to involve our citizen and student field explorers who collect mushrooms for the mushroom display each year. All they were asked to collect this year were photographs and upload them to iNaturalist. Because of the way the iNat Mycoloblitz was configured, any observation of a fungus that met the criteria of the mycoblitz (time frame, location boundary, and taxonomy) was included. Some citizen scientists (including the Best in show winner) were totally unaware of the ongoing Mycoblitz or their contribution to it.

Following are the preliminary numbers from the Mycoblitz; which may change after further analysis. 

  • 356 species
  • 2139 observations
  • 198 observers
  • 82 identifiers; the primary expert identifier was Noah Siegel who put in countless hours.

The contest portion of the Mycoblitz ran from Oct 16th to Oct 23rd in order to allow time for award selection and video recording of the awards. The selection of the award winning species was done by Bruce & Susie with lots of input by Noah Siegel. The Best in Show prize was not awarded this year as the award winner declined to be identified or have their winning photo included. I can say the prize winning mushroom was an Agaricon mushroom (Laricifomes officinalis) that was still firmly attached to a tree. Conservation of wild populations of Agaricon mushrooms is a concern as their habitat in old growth forests is dwindling. Awards that were issued include:

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