Thousands of people are expected in Kennett Square this weekend for the town's annual celebration of its main export and industry: mushrooms. The 28th Annual Mushroom Festival will feature contests, food, street shopping, music and more.
The 28th Annual Mushroom Festival kicks off this weekend, featuring more than 200 vendors, a community parade, an antique and classic car show, a mushroom-eating contest and mushroom tours.
Thousands of people are expected to attend but here's what to know to maximize your experience:
1. PARKING The main streets downtown are closed, making parking a bit tough. However, three satellite lots (Exelon Parking Lot, Kennett High School and a lot located on Old Baltimore Pike, in Toughkenamon, just past the light at Chambers Road) are available for $5 per car. Shuttles will take visitors back and forth. Be sure to take notice of the drop off points as the buses are specific to lots.
2 ANTIQUE & CLASSIC CAR SHOW Head for the shade of Broad Street to see the cars on display on Saturday. Registration is still open for anyone who wants to participate , costing $20. The first 60 registrants receive a t-shirt, dash plaque, one admission wristband and a free package of mushrooms. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
3. MUSHROOM 5K RUN/2-MILE WALK Starting and finishing at Kennett High School, the course traverses the winding Red Clay Creek and passes several of the area's mushroom farms. Race-day registration is $25 and participants will receive t-shirts while supplies last. The run starts at 8:30 a.m., while the walk starts five minutes later at 8:35 a.m. Festival admission is included with registration and prizes will be awarded for first place overall for males and females as well as first, second and third place awards in all age categories. Beverages and snacks will be provided post-race.
4 SUPERSTAR APPEARANCE Former "Top Chef" contestant and current co-host of ABC's "The Chew" Carla Hall is this year's celebrity chef. Tickets for her culinary demonstrations at noon and 3 p.m., Sunday, are on sale now online at www.mushroomfestival.org/cooking-demonstations/ for $10. Tickets at-the-door will be $15. Appropriately, she'll be sharing a mushroom recipe as well as her experiences cooking in general.
Other chefs include Jennifer Behm-Lazzarini of Pink Martini Catering, Christian Collins of Master Chef (season two), Breff Hulbert of Portabellos, Montgomery County Community College Culinary Instructor Steve Latona, Alfred Jackson of Kennett Square Inn and Jack Mavraj of La Verona Italian Restaurant.
5. ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT The popular fried mushroom-eating contest returns to the Special Events Tent on Saturday at 3 p.m. with contestants vying for $200, a trophy and bragging rights. The record was set last year when Jamie "The Bear" McDonald consumed 5.5 pounds of mushrooms in eight minutes.
6 OLD FASHIONED FUN For kids, a classic carnival is set up at 600 S. Broad St. Other entertainers will be set up throughout the festival to amuse pint-sized visitors as well.