Telluride Mushroom Festival: Overview + Special Events

Telluride Mushroom Festival: Overview + Special Events

Since 1981, the Telluride Mushroom Festival has celebrated all things mycological, from the newest advancements in mushroom science to its famous mushroom cook-off. The 39th annual Telluride Mushroom Festival takes place Wednesday, August 14 – Sunday, August 18, in Telluride, the Festival Capital of the Rockies.

The Telluride Mushroom Festival online schedule.

 Full festival passes for the four-day event runs $300. Tickets/passes here

Fungi serve many purposes–from breaking down plant cellulose in nature to creating nutrients for plants, to serving as food and medicine for people, to acting as bio-remediators to filter and break down toxic land from oil spills and agricultural run off. However, many are unaware of how versatile mushrooms are outside of the kitchen.

According to Festival Director Dr. Britt Bunyard of Fungi magazine, the theme this year is “Healing the Mind, Healing the Planet.” The program features a raft of myco luminaries including Prof. Emeritus of Pharmacology at Purdue Dr. David Nichols; founder/director of Chile’s Fundación Fungi; Giuliana Furci, founder/director of Chile’s Fundación Fungi; Mushroom Mountain’s Tradd and Olga Cotter; and the “Wise Woman of the San Juans,” Katrina Blair.

The Telluride Mushroom Festival parade, which takes place on Saturday, August 17, 4 p.m., is open to the general public. The over-the-top spectacle is not to be missed.


Telluride, Colorado is the epicenter for the largest wild mushroom happening in North America and plans are now set for the 39th Annual Telluride Mushroom Festival. This internationally famous myco happening features a plethora of events ranging from foray and mushroom ID sessions to hands-on demonstrations and lectures, all led by regionally, nationally and internationally known experts, plus the quirkiest parade you will ever see. Pretty much “all things fungal.” There is plenty for everyone each and every day, no matter your age, interest, or education level.

Art Goodtimes is a long-time fixture at the Telluride Mushroom Fest – and in its over-the-top parade. Goodtimes is also the event’s poet-in-residence and assistant to Britt Bunyard.



Interested in forays and wild mushroom identification? The Telluride Mushroom Festival forays are a great way to learn on the job from local experts, as well as to get up close and personal with nationally famous field mycologists.

For IDs head to the big tents in Elks Park. Along with learning how to know your mushrooms, why not try tasting a few?

Mushroom Fest hosts many culinary events, some of them for a small fee; others totally free.

Each year many attendees have said they are interested in learning about how to grow mushrooms at home, some on a small scale just for fun, though others dream of ramping up and going commercial, which is not far-fetched. As it turns out, mushroom cultivation operations are popping up all the time and cultivated mushrooms are a  trending crop with consumers. Mushroom Festival features everything from how to do basic cultivation for beginners to learning lab tissue culturing, from how to build basic lab equipment to ramping it up to large-scale operations. Marketing your production is also part of the learning.

This year’s theme, according to Festival Director, Dr. Britt Bunyard, Editor-in-Chief of Fungi magazine, is “Healing the Mind, Healing the Planet,” so the program features myco luminaries including Prof. Emeritus of Pharmacology at Purdue, Dr. David Nichols; founder/director of Chile’s Fundación Fungi, Giuliana Furci; Mushroom Mountain’s Tradd and Olga Cotter; weed- and mushroom-loving “Wise Woman of the San Juans,” Katrina Blair.

Paul Stamets & Giuliana Furci. Courtesy photo from 2018 event.

“We’re excited by this year’s Myco Fest Big Time,” said new Festival Manager Ashley Smith of Sage Advice Telluride. “We’ve redesigned our website, reorganized our internal operations, and look forward to working with the community to further enhance one of the town’s oldest festivals.”

A far as venues go, as in recent years, the Sheridan Opera House remains Telluride Mushroom Festival HQ, in part because the historic venue is located in the heart of downtown Telluride and is right across from  the mushroom identification tent in Elks Park. Several other venues around town will host workshops and lectures, with the Palm Theatre serving as the primary address for keynote talks.

Mushroom Fest director Dr. Britt Bunyard, by David Blondell in Chile 2018.

Some of the presenters and topics will be familiar … Some will be new.

For example, the use of molecular biology has many applications for the study of fungi, as well as in everyday life and the subject is trending right now.

Wanting to get involved in a scientific project locally or on the national level? At this year’s Fest, there are several presentations on how Citizen Scientists can get involved and what you need to know. In addition,  there are panel discussions at which audience participation is encouraged.

“I’m most excited to announce David Nichols, founder and lead researcher at the Heffter Foundation. The man is a world-renowned psychedelics researcher and currently an Adjunct Professor of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, explains Bunyard.

In his research Dr. Nichols has focused on drugs that affect serotonin and dopamine transmission in the CNS. In 1993, Dr. Nichols founded the Heffter Research Institute, which has supported and funded clinical research with psilocybin and led the so-called “renaissance in psychedelic research.”

Two stellar University of Alabama researchers plan to attend the Telluride Mushroom Festival this year:  One of them is Peter Hendricks, returning for the second time to Telluride. Hendricks is a renowned psychedelics researcher and clinician, who has treated tobacco and drug addiction for 15 years. Sara Lappan, a research fellow at U. of Alabama, also works in that field.

“Peter totally enthralled me with his presentation at Mushroom Fest a few years ago. After several discussions with Sara, I’m very excited to invite her to speak at this year’s event too,” adds Bunyard.

Also on deck again is Giuliana Furci is a Chilean mycologist of international fame and an all-around rock star in the field. Furci is returning to dazzle us with reports of her inroads into preserving mushroom habitat globally.

Guiliana Furci

Festival attendees met Caue Oliviera last year. He is returning this year for the first time as a presenter. Caue is making a big name for himself in Brazil (and other locations abroad), where he studies forest tree fungi.

Alissa Allen, founder of Myco Pigments, is a Seattle-based mushroom-dying guru making her second trip to Telluride. Allen plans to conduct workshops and lecture.

Chad Hyatt, a West Coast notable mycologist, forager, and chef will do two cooking presentations. He is also author of the brand new “The Mushroom Hunter’s Kitchen.”

Louie Schwartzberg

“We just added internationally-acclaimed filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg to our list of presenters,” says Bunyard. “We love Louie and he loves us. Louie is very eager to return to the Telluride Mushroom Festival to present more on his doc, ‘Fantastic Fungi,’ and a brand-new companion book about the mycologists involved (most of them Mushroom Festival faculty) in making his spectacular film which premiered in Telluride last year.”

Bunyard is also excited to announce major inroads into Colorado mycologists, as well as other CO researchers:

“I think having regular faculty to draw on  from nearby will be a great boon to us and to Colorado science. Some have been to the Fest previously; some are invited presenters; others are coming as volunteers because they really want to get involved.”

The list of Colorado-based experts coming this year includes Andy Wilson of the Denver Botanic Garden; Sam Mitchel of the Mycological Herbarium; Amy Honan, Western Colorado University who, like Andy, studies several really interesting groups of fungi.

“I’m hopeful Amy will tell us about the bizarre Colorado Tulostoma. Think puffballs-on-sticks, which can occur in desert areas,” says Bunyard.

Also on Bunyard’s list  of regional experts is Alisha Quandt of the U of CO, Boulder, who will make her first trip to town.

Rick Levy of the Denver Botanic Garden is returning.

Also on board from the state are Lauren Czaplicki D’Antonio of Science by Design Boulder CO, who is a bioinformatics/enviro engineer making her first trip.

Jeff Ravage is returning. Ravage does bioremediation work  in Colorado and many, including Bunyard, have been following his myco-remediation projects.

“We’ve been talking with a group about using some of Paul Stamets’s methods to treat E. coli in waterways in Colorado. This is something new that we’re just now getting off the ground,” Ravage told Bunayard.

 Tradd Cotter and Crew (Daniel Reyes, Leif Olson, and Kris Holstrom) are back to do the Pre-Foray Workshops.

Rad Tradd Cotter

“Tradd had really emerged as the new face of mycology and is leading the field in totally new directions. He always manages to top his previous year’s breakthroughs. I am not at liberty to spill the beans on everything surrounding Tradd’s s big new announcement for 2019, but it is truly exciting news that will have everyone talking long after Mushroom Festival ends,” adds Bunyard.

More about Telluride Mushroom Festival director Britt Bunyard: 

Britt Bunyard is publisher and editor-in-chief of FUNGI Magazine.

He has also worked as a full-time biology professor in Ohio and Wisconsin, teaching a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses in evolution, microbiology, mycology, invertebrate zoology, biochemistry and environmental science.

Additional scholarly achievements include publication of scientific papers in 16 different international research journals, one patent, and articles in popular science magazines. Bunyard also gives several invited lectures in North America and abroad each year.

Britt Bunyard has been a consultant for National Geographic Magazine and for an episode of PBS’s NOVA television program.

He is married and has three children.

More about Ashley Smith:

After 10+ years dedicated to outdoor education with the Telluride Academy, Smith has formed her own non-profit consulting business, Sage Advice.

Under that aegis, she joins the Mushroom management team with Britt Bunyard as Festival Director and Art Goodtimes as Festival Co-ordinator.

“After spending the last decade with Telluride Academy in different roles from Field Instructor to Grant Writer to Program Director, I feel excited to dive back into the world of logistics and planning minutia that I got so used to,” said Smith. “As a science major, I look forward to being involved with the efforts of the Telluride Institute and Telluride Mushroom Festival to host the five-day summer event showcasing the latest in groundbreaking scientific studies regarding the many uses of fungi, particularly their medical and environmental remediation applications.”

Originally from the Sunshine State, Smith explained that the best mycological moment for her husband Nate and their two dogs “is every August when my family comes to visit from Florida and we get a chance to take them foraging for chanterelles, so we can make our favorite pasta dish — forest to table at its best!”

Smith will be working to apply her organizational, design and operational skills to the planning and production of the event this year.

A graduate of St. Petersburg College, Ashley Smith has worked in Telluride as program coordinator for Eco Adventures, Sales and Marketing Coordinator for the Telluride Ski & Golf Co., Development Director for the Telluride Mountain Club, prior to her long-term involvement with the Telluride Academy.

“We are delighted to have someone with Ashley’s local professional background to help the festival as it continues to grow and expand its national and international reach,” said Goodtimes, who has been with the Mushroom Festival in various capacities for the past 38 years.

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