Telluride Mushroom Fest: Schedule + Director, Dr. Britt Bunyard Weighs In!

Telluride Mushroom Fest: Schedule + Director, Dr. Britt Bunyard Weighs In!

The Telluride Mushroom Festival is back for the 42nd year in a row. In only a few weeks from now, the Town of Telluride will be taken over by amanita hat-wearing, mold- and spore-worshipping, mycelium fanatics.

For more information on the keynote presentations or to learn more about this year’s lectures, workshops and forays, visit the Telluride Mushroom Festival’s online schedule here.

To buy your four-day festival pass, visit here. Single-day passes will be available for purchase at the Festival registration desk in Elk’s Park from August 18–21.

Sign up for Ah Haa’s Wild Mushroom Puppet Theater here.

For more on the history of the Telluride Mushroom Festival, go here.

Dr. Britt Bunyard, director, Telluride Mushroom Fest.

“This year’s theme is ‘beauty and gratitude’ and this is true for all of us at the Mushroom Festival. After two challenging years of planning our event around COVID, we are all relieved and grateful to return to Telluride and connect with one another among the San Juan’s abundant forests and breathtaking mountains,” stated Dr. Britt Bunyard, Festival Director and Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of FUNGI Magazine. “Once again, we will have a few dozen world-famous mycologists presenting over the weekend who aim to change the world with groundbreaking studies on psychedelics, new mushroom species, research in myco-rememdiation and so much more.”

As always, the Festival will kick-off with Early Bird special events and a myco-beer launch party. It continues on Thursday through Sunday for full festival pass holders with a robust schedule of workshops, lectures, dinners, films and forays. The famous mushroom parade lifts off on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m on Main St. in downtown Telluride.

“This year, we are excited to increase our offerings and have doubled the amount of forays to try and get EVERYONE who would like to get out in the woods over the week,” said Bunyard. “Additionally, this year’s Festival will feature not one, but three keynote speakers, all presenting on different days.” 

With the recent heightened public interest in ongoing medical research, therapeutic trials, and potential movement towards the legalization of psilocybin, the Telluride Mushroom Festival is honored to host keynote speakers Laura Guzman-Davalos, Bryn Dentinger, and Peter Hendricks. Those three prominent mycologists will take festival attendees on a deep dive into the latest findings about what could be the next steps in healing the minds of the millions who suffer from addiction, depression, and trauma.

Dr. Britt Bunyard on Mushroom Fest:

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

What’s the most fulfilling thing about being Director of the Telluride Mushroom Festival?

Playing a role in getting really amazing mycologists, clinicians, or other presenters– whom many in the audience might have never heard of previously–and giving them the stage to talk about their great work. Year in year out, I attend many of all the largest mushroom forays and festivals, and it’s rare to see mycological presentations by anyone beside white males. Yes! Still in this day and age. I’m so proud of the track record of the TMF: every year we attract presenters from many different demographics and we feature international presenters as well.

What makes the Telluride Mushroom Festival unique?

There are SO many things that make this event unique. First-time attendees will notice this right from their arrival in town and from their very first presentation on Day 1. Just as I did the first time I attended! Besides being the largest wild mushroom festival in North America, there is nothing mycological that is not on the schedule–including psychedelics. Only recently, psychedelics have started to be discussed openly at some myco events…even becoming “cool.” The TMF started out as a psychedelics conference 42 years ago and has kept that as a central theme for discussion ever since (even when it was totally taboo and much less cool!). Each year we showcase clinicians doing cutting-edge research at institutions like the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and others.

Is there anything new planned or a highlight of this year’s festival? 

One thing “new” happened last year: the Festival was sold out. Every event. First time in the 42-year history. So, for this year we have even more of everything. A lot more forays planned. Two live bands instead of one. More cooking demos. Basically what’s new is more of everything! There will be about 40 presenters featured in the lineup and more than 100 events around town and in the forests outside of town. At any one moment during the Fest, attendees could be foraying, attending lectures or demos, or tasting mushrooms. There are mushroomy things pretty much everywhere you look in town over the weekend.

What’s your personal favorite part of the festival (either a specific event or general theme)?

There is so much to enjoy at the TMF, and so many aspects that are different from all other myco events like the parade, the hands-on workshops and demos. But possibly my favorite event is late-night poetry and live entertainment. It’s always a packed house and features many professional and regionally and nationally known poets and other performers. The theme is always mushrooms. But all is is anything-goes!

What fungi-related topic are you most excited about right now? Or something important/exciting that not many people are aware of?

The sudden rise in interest with psychedelics has been pretty interesting. I’m hopeful that because it’s now going from strictly illegal to mainstream (maybe), that there may also be a loosening of rules permitting deep research to resume.

For Telluride Inside And Out readers and mycophiles–outside of town and across Colorado–who haven’t yet made the trip across the state for the festival, what’s the most compelling reason to do so?

The Festival is an easy day’s drive and although the town of Telluride is a pretty expensive tourist destination, it’s incredibly beautiful and oh wow are the mushrooms incredible. The mountains are way bigger and higher over there and the mushrooms more abundant!

Is there anything else you’d like to share about the festival or fungi in general?

Plan early if you are attending. Plan your lodging (or camping) ahead of time, and have your tickets or know that tickets are available. Last year, for the first time ever, as we said, ALL events sold out. We’ve planned many more happenings for this year to handle the crowds…but still, best to be prepared. Keep in mind: there is a reason this is the largest and most popular myco event in North America. It’s just better.

And now all about the Wild Mushroom Puppet Theater (a creative workshop for the kids):

Ah Haa School is hosting Wild Mushroom Puppet Theater Workshop for the kids at their wonderful art studio!

During the workshop, kids ages 7-12 will learn to craft puppets and tell incredible stories with Puppet Master, Ashley Boling! ???? Over the two-day course participants will imagine, craft, and create their very own mushroom puppet show, which they will be able to showcase on Friday at the end of class. ????

Dates & times: August 18th, 10am – 12pm; August 19th, 10am – 12pm

Cost: $100.00 for the full two-day course

Class registration is available to the public, but limited to 12 spots.

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