40th Annual Telluride Mushroom Festival
Britt Bunyard, Festival Director: 2020 Festival Recap & Awards Announcement
Telluride, Colorado is normally the epicenter for the largest wild mushroom happening in North America. Then 2020 happened and most things “normal” have since been put on hold. Undaunted, the organizers of the Mushroom Festival decided to hold the 40th annual Festival—though in a mostly virtual format—with a few tightly restricted “in-person” events for the stalwarts who would not miss it for the world (or pandemic).
This year marked the 40th anniversary of this internationally-famous festival, which features a plethora of events ranging from foray and mushroom ID sessions, to hands-on demonstrations, to lectures—all led by regionally-, nationally-, and internationally-known experts, the quirkiest parade you will ever see, and pretty much “all things fungal.” There is plenty for everyone each and every day, no matter your age, interest, or education level. As a result of state and local rules (plus, basic common sense of how contagion spreads), masks were mandatory, groups were small and indoor events cancelled altogether. This also meant no parade. Ultimately, COVID-19 (and historic dry conditions) were unable to put a damper on the festivities as hundreds tuned in online from all over the world to shelter/celebrate in place. And for the faithful who showed up in person and donning masks, they got the full VIP treatment with small-group forays and live presentations.
40th Annual Telluride Mushroom Festival Award Winners Announced!
For more than 10 years, the Telluride Institute has been offering The Salzman Award to the person who has contributed most significantly to the Telluride Mushroom Festival over the years. The first award went to Dr. Emanuel Salzman and his wife Joanne of Denver, who founded what began as a medical conference in Aspen and ended up a full-blown wild mushroom festival in Telluride. Subsequent winners include many key people who have made the festival what it is today: Paul Stamets, Gary Lincoff, many members of the Adams family of Pueblo, mycologist Cathy Cripps, many members of the Corbin family, and Giuliana Furci, founder of Fundacion Fungi in Santiago, Chile. This year the Festival honored local mushroom and plant expert John SirJesse for his longtime service and dedication to the Festival.
With the passing in 2018 of festival mycologist and founder Gary Lincoff, the Telluride Institute created the Lincoff Award for significant contributions to American mycology. Paul Stamets was named the winner of the initial award. Last year, David Nichols, world-renowned psychedelics researcher and Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at the Purdue University College of Pharmacy, was honored. This year’s Lincoff Award was given to Louis Schwarzberg, producer of the internationally-acclaimed film Fantastic Fungi. With this film, which has been seen all around the world, Louie Schwarzberg has done more to promote mushrooms and other fungi—and their role in nature and in human lives—than any other living person of recent memory. If you have not already, you must see this film!