MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS: The 2011 mushroom contest [**Gallery**]

FUNGI HAS A way of popping up in unexpected places.

Throughout my time on the North Olympic Peninsula, I have become acquainted with that fact.

When I was living in a particularly poorly kept abode, for example, a mushroom sprouted up out of my kitchen floor.

It took days for my roommate and I to discover it — mostly because neither of us spent any time there — and it obviously created quite a the stir once we did.

Standing about two inches tall and colored off-white with a tinge of green, the freakish fungus was repulsive.

That being said, I couldn’t help but feel a little admiration for its undaunted determination.

To thrive at the base of a leaky kitchen sink as long as it did is surely no easy task.

To do so in a smoke-filled mess of a man cave like the one I once lived in is downright David Blain-esque.

In much the same way, the mystical power of the mushroom has managed to attach itself to my column space.

If there is one thing I have discovered during my six years here, it’s that fungi have many friends around these parts.

These people recognize its seductive beauty, its tantalizing taste and, most of all, its place on the Peninsula outdoor pantheon.

There are fish, there are fauna, and there are fungi.

Thus, it is with great pride that I announce the winners of “Mushroom Mania, A Fungus Festivus” — the fourth annual fungal photo contest.

Unlike in previous years, this fall’s contest was met with tepid fanfare — only 30 entries, down from last year’s record of 74.

I’ll blame a late arriving mushroom season.

Of course, as my parents always used to say, whenever you point a finger, there’s always three fingers pointing back.

(A special thanks to Sally Mitchell of Brinnon, who helped identify the fungi.)

■ Biggest mushroom — Every year, it seems to come down to one of two types of mushroom in this category: the puffball and the cauliflower.

Again, I had two choices that were eerily similar in size — a cauliflower mushroom from Gary Korb and a similarly sized puffball shroom from Pam Bedford of Sequim.

In physics class, the puffball wins; same for this column space.

The puffball is tops out of nine entries.

■ Mushroom most likely to distract a Twi-Hard (aka “prettiest”) — Edward Cullen may carry quite a bit cache off the Peninsula.

But as the multitude of entries in this category suggests — 17 total — the love-starved vampire will always play second fiddle to the shroom around here.

As always, this was the most difficult category to judge because it’s so subject in nature.

I’m always a sucker for a good coral mushroom, and you can never go wrong with a cup fungus.

In the end, however, I had to select the jelly tooth fungus from Max Franklin of Port Angeles.

The shroom was so stately it practically glowed.

Surely, a flock of emo teenagers could not resist its elegance.

■ Mushroom most resembling a notable figure — I’d like to say there were a lot of choices in this category, but its support could best be described as underwhelming.

Only four look alike mushrooms were submitted during the two months of Mushroom Mania.

Luckily, Scott Ellerby of Poulsbo — oddly enough, a non-Peninsulite — came through with his mushroom match of Elvis Presley.

Outside of another shroom that bore a strong resemblance to Gene Simmons, submitted by Greg “Shroomdiddy” Marsh of Port Angeles, it was without peer.

Just like the King of Rock and Roll.

________

Matt Schubert is the outdoors and sports columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column regularly appears on Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected]

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