The Federation of Fungus

Do mushroom lovers intersect with Star Trek somehow? Must be, because the mushroom-lovers club in Santa Cruz calls itself the Fungus Federation and runs itself on the “Federation of Planets” model of governance.

So says its its website, anyway. The federation’s five year mission: “Keep the ‘fun’ in fungus.”

And they do. The Federation stages an annual multi-day “Fungus Fair” at Loudon Nelson Community Center and has done so since the ‘80s; the t-shirt above dates from the 2007 Fair.

Pre-Federation, Fungus Fairs were sponsored by the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History in the ’70s. The image below appeared on posters and tees for the museum’s ’78 Fungus Fair.

Cool and foggy with dripping-wet forests: Santa Cruz County makes a fine hunting ground for wild mushrooms and fungus. I even get interesting mushrooms in my front yard.

So it follows that like-minded Santa Cruzans would gather to forage for them, discuss them, and learn more about them. And of course eat them, so it’s doubly advisable that they teach each other to distinguish the edible fungi from the ones that destroy your liver.

Many are those in these parts who hunt the elusive and prized “mushrooms that make you smile.” The Federation website stays mum on this topic. It does mention the annual mushroom-themed potluck “of massive proportions,” not to mention a “suds ’n “shooms” potluck held jointly with the amateur brewers, and other activities. The Federation enjoys itself.

And of course, the Fungus Fair is “fungus fun for the whole family,” with exhibits, speakers, cooking demos, activities for children, and a dealer’s room. We went once; the place was packed. If you want to burst forth into the world of mushrooms, the Fungus Fair is a good place to start.

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