BITS and Pieces

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Humongous Fungus Festival, Michigan

August will see Valencian Spaniards pelt tomatoes in one town and grapes in the other. It will also see a bunch of south-western Frenchmen imitate pig sounds. And just when you’d say that festivals can’t get any weirder, you’d stumble upon a fungus-worshiping festival that the nook-like city of Crystal Falls, Michigan has been hosting every year since 1992. With floats, food and fun (and an uber-catchy name!) the Humongous Fungus Festival just seems to tick all the right boxes.

And a piece of advice. If you are on a diet, Do. Not. Set. Foot. Into. Crystal. Falls. In. August. Because a 10 foot pizza will be your greatest enemy!

What?

The Humongous Fungus Festival

When?

7-9 August 2015

Where?

Crystal Falls, Michigan

Ok, but fungus? Seriously?

Oh yes! And by fungus I mean not the yucky kind that once murdered your precious leather but the yummy kind that makes you drool. While the Tomatina steals the thunder of all other food festivals every August, the Michiganders are proud to celebrate this odd little festival for a reason. It is dedicated to the Armillaria Gallica colony or the “humongous fungus” as we call it, that stretches across 37 acres in Michigan and weighs a staggering 21,000 lbs. Estimated to be 1,500 years old, it was once considered to be the oldest organism on the planet. But since most of it lies underground, don’t be too disappointed when all you see are a few humble button mushrooms.

The story, please

It was in year 1992 that the fungus colony was discovered by Myron L. Smith and James B. Anderson from the University of Toronto. This fungus became an overnight star after it was featured in the Journal of Nature in April 1992. It has now become a matter of debate if it actually is the largest mushroom in the world. But that doesn’t stop the Crystal Fall natives from turning their vintage city into an extravaganza.

And getting down to the festivities

Let me get right to it. It is every gourmand’s mecca. There is food galore for three days. The day starts with a Pancake breakfast followed by the Ice Cream Social where you can stuff yourself with unimaginable amounts of ice cream sans the guilt. Then there is the Pie Social for pie lovers and if there’s place for more, the Salad Luncheon is where the actual food awaits. Signing up for one of the Volleyball or golf tournaments might make digestion a little easy. Horseshoe races, tube floats, mushroom cook-offs, the Fungus Fest Parade and the firework display to seal the deal, there is something for everyone.

And then behold the majestic pizza, fellow gluttons. Loaded with mushrooms (obviously), this greasy, gooey 10 foot pizza is the signature of the festival. Whether you get to eat it in this lifetime or not, mentioning it during your next lazy pizza party is bound to earn you some serious brownie points!

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Sonali Kulkarni - Editor-in-Chief, French-English Translator A novice at adulthood and an ardent disciple of Dan Brown and Ayn Rand, Sonali is a pathological bookworm, a borderline nerdy introvert and a hardcore adventure junkie who cannot live without chocolate. She is currently studying French and manages to speak some Spanish too. Having represented her state in national level Athletics for the better part of a decade, the nomad in her has now given it up to venture into the exciting world of languages, writing and travel.