Have you ever wondered if the mushrooms in your back yard are edible? The West Virginia Mushroom Club can help. Whether you're an amateur who doesn't know a thing about wild mushrooms or an experienced mushroom hunter who has been picking mushrooms for a lifetime, there will be something for everybody at the wild mushroom foray in Dry Fork on Friday evening and all day Saturday.
Plans are in place for a fun-filled and educational day, rain or shine. The fee for attendance is $50 per person, but those younger than 8 or older than 80 attend for free.
Visiting experts will include Gary Lincoff, author of the "Audubon Field Guide to Mushrooms," "The Complete Mushroom Hunter," "The Joy of Foraging" and several other books.
Noah Siegel, a mushroom identification and photography expert, will be leading one of the mushroom walks. Even if you have a really basic camera, Siegel has tips that can help you take better photos and learn about wild mushrooms at the same time.
In addition to the visiting experts, there will be some nationally famous local experts as well. Barbour County resident William Roody, author of "Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians," will be present and available to sign copies of his book. Barbour County mushroom and wildlife expert Donna Mitchell will be there to help you sort and display the mushrooms you collect.
Walt Sturgeon, another nationally recognized mushroom expert and photographer, will be offering a beginner's course about Appalachian fungi. Plus, Randolph County resident Kyle Weaner will be using the skills he learned while living in India to demonstrate how to bring wild mushrooms to life with various herbs, spices and cooking techniques.
The event will begin with registration at the Dry Fork Assembly of God Fellowship Hall (not the church), off Route 32, at the Randolph/Tucker County line at 5 p.m. Friday. There will be an optional pizza and salad social at 6 p.m., followed by Sturgeon's educational presentation at 7 p.m.
At 8 a.m. Saturday, registration resumes and at 9:15 a.m., groups will car pool to hunt for mushrooms in Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls State Parks.
While the foray walks take place Saturday morning, Alissa Allen will be offering a mushroom dye class. Learn how to make beautiful gifts, containing just about every color in the rainbow, using mushrooms and other fungi found locally.
After the foray walks and the dye workshop, there will be a lunch break. If you're too busy to pack something for lunch, hot dogs and simple sandwiches will be available in exchange for a small donation.
During the lunch hour, Paul Goland from Franklin will offer a shitake workshop. Attendance is free, but for $10 (less than half the retail price) you can inoculate and take home your own log.
After lunch, there will be a few more educational programs, a cooking demonstration, some wild mushroom dishes for you to taste, and then the experts will teach you about the mushrooms collected that morning or brought in from home.
Maybe you can't become a mushroom expert in one day, but you can learn to easily recognize some of the deadly poisonous and common edibles available locally.
There will also be a fundraising sales table and a silent auction featuring T-shirts designed especially for the event as well as items of interest to mushroom lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
So, pack up a basket, water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a camera, and head out to enjoy the fun. Bring along any wild mushrooms you find outside your house or along the drive and the experts will identify them for you.
You can visit www.wvmushroomclub.org and use Paypal to guarantee your spot and speed up registration at the foray. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 304 636 7074 and ask for Shelly Conrad.