Fungus Fair shows off Central Coast mushrooms

In Santa Cruz, hundreds of wild fungi took over the Louden Nelson Community Center for the annual Fungus Fair.

The event gives people an opportunity to get an up-close look at the mushrooms that call the Central Coast home.

"There's lots of different mushrooms and it's just, you know, fun," Anabelle Davis, 10, said.

Nearly 200 different mushroom species were on display, all hand picked from forests in Monterey, Santa Cruz and the southern Bay Area.

Mushroom hunter Phil Carpenter credits the Central Coast climate for diverse mushroom population.

"We also are temperate. It doesn't get too cold, it doesn't get to wet, and we have excellent habitat," Carpenter said.

Labels show the mushrooms in one of three categories: deadly, non-edible or edible, and it's a good reminder for mushroom hunters to be careful what you pick.

"If you're going to eat it, you better know what it is," Carpenter said.

"Some of the weirder mushrooms, you have the instinct to poke, and then they say deadly so you're like, don't poke that," Davis said.

For an average mushroom season, the Fungus Fair usually shows off about 200-300 different species, but because of the drought, the fair only has a little under 200.

"We've really seen an effect of that drought on what's happening this year. Mushrooms just have not been coming up. What has been coming up has been sparse," Carpenter said.

With the recent wet weather and more predicted to be on the way, Carpenter said it's likely they'll see an abundance of mushrooms in the coming months.

"With the rains we had this week, it seems like things are turning around and we might have an explosion of our season, which would be fantastic," Carpenter said.

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