Dazzling outfits and wandering entertainers contributed to the excitement at the Morgan Hill Mushroom Festival on May 25. Photo: Tarmo Hannula

The 40th Morgan Hill Mushroom Festival unfolded Saturday and Sunday at the Downtown Amphitheater grounds and Depot Street.

On May 25, sunshine mixed with a cool breeze drew thousands of locals and out-of-town visitors for a day of live music, arts and crafts, food booths, cooking demonstrations, entertainment, wine and beer gardens, a sprawling vendor marketplace and more.

“I like live music and that’s why I’m here,” said Bruce Kuefner of Gilroy, who set up his folding chair close to the ampitheater’s main stage while sporting a fedora, a Grateful Dead shirt and a cold beer in hand. 

“I’ve been coming here for about five years; it gets a thumbs up from me,” Kuefner said. 

As the high-energy live music of the 11-piece band, Groove Ride, blared across the festival, swarms of visitors, from babies to silver-haired seniors, prowled the grounds for a taste of prepared foods. Offerings varied from corn dogs, snow cones and tacos, to gourmet grilled portobello and oyster mushrooms or mushroom infused nachos. 

Arts, crafts and homegoods bulged from row after row of tents, hosted by vendors including Paper, Fibers & Gemstones, Jerky Jerks, Come Say G’Day Hats, Cutco Knife Cutlery,  the Coconut Hut, Howling Wolf’s Leather and Funnel Cakes. Beer and wine weren’t the only beverages on hand—vendors also offered lemonade, iced tea, fruit punch, fruit smoothies, agua’s fescas, frappe’s, coffees and homemade sodas.  

The excitement also drew people indoors for a quieter atmosphere of more goods, including jewelry and clothing, while one gourmet chef after another taunted a seated audience with countless ways to cook and eat mushrooms.

Gourmet cooking demonstrations carried on throughout the Morgan Hill Mushroom Festival May 25-26. Pictured here, crowds were shown how to make a mushroom cheesecake on May 25. Photo: Tarmo Hannula

“I love coming here,” said Stacy Sutter, in the company of her husband, whose family dates back generations to the Sutter farm and the naming of Sutter Boulevard in Morgan Hill. “It’s just a great way to support local businesses and people and give back to  our community. And so far, it’s not that hot, so we’re really happy to be here.”

Presented by Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras, Inc., organizers said the event is run by volunteers. The festival raises money for local high school scholarships and nonprofits and has pulled in around $2 million over the years.

Steve Tate, who served as Morgan Hill’s Mayor from 2006-2018, worked the gate for part of the day on Saturday.

Kalissa Murillo, 8, of Watsonville, is delighted to have a Hello Kitty design painted on her face at the Morgan Hill Mushroom Festival May 25. Photo: Tarmo Hannula

“I just like working here and helping the people have a good time,” Tate said. “It’s a great nonprofit event that helps our high school seniors. I still remember when this was started by (former) Fire Chief Brad Spencer. And here we are today, continuing a good thing.”

Over the day, five musical groups treated people from the Acoustic Stage on one side of the grounds, while six bands kept the Amphitheater Stage buzzing. 

Saturday was capped off by the final band, Hotel California, Original Eagles Tribute Band from Toronto, Canada. An explosion of applause greeted their first song, the 1975 hit, “One of These Nights,” which included the original’s nearly identical guitar solo and harmonizing vocals.

People of all ages hit the dance floor to enjoy live entertainment May 25 at the Morgan Hill Mushroom Festival. Photo: Tarmo Hannula
Morgan Hill Mushroom Festival vendor Loren Garrone displays a Loaded Mushroom Nachos plate at the Far West Fungi food stand May 25. Photo: Tarmo Hannula
Scores of food booths offered a wide variety of cuisine for Mushroom Festival attendees, pictured May 25. Photo: Tarmo Hannula
From Toronto, the Eagles tribute band, Hotel California, treated the crowds to their blend of tunes at the 40th annual Morgan Hill Mushroom Festival on May 25 .Photo: Tarmo Hannula
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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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