SPORTS SPECIAL: The mushroom contest

EDITORS NOTE — Columnist Matt Schubert’s work usually appears in Sports, Page B1, on Thursdays and Fridays. This bonus column chronicles the PDN’s third annual mushroom photo contest.

MANIA HIT A fevered pitch this fall.

But it had nothing to do with Port Angeles City Council.

No, my dear Peninsulites, this phenomenon was all about the fungus among us.

Mushroom Mania: A Fungus Festivus returned to the North Olympic Peninsula this fall

And once again, the PDN’s third annual mushroom photo contest inspired dozens to march deep into the dark recesses of the edge of the Earth.

They found fungi large and small, dreamy and deformed, so that we could all celebrate our shrooms the way Mother Nature intended.

Some might call these brave and bold Peninsulites heros.

Others might say they broke the mold.

A Mushroom Mania record 74 photos were submitted to the contest.

That made for some long hours in front of the computer screen for the contest’s official judges (yours truly and my special lady friend).

With so much first-class fungi staring us in the face, we took our duties quite seriously.

Thus, it is with great pride that I announce this year’s winners and thank each and every one of you for participating.

(Also, a special thanks goes to the PDN’s resident mycologist, Sam Nugent, who helped identify the winning submissions.)

Without further ado, here are the results:

• Mushroom most likely to distract a Twi-Hard (aka “prettiest mushroom”) — As this category proved once again, fungi can indeed be fair.

The most popular category for the second straight year (35 entries), it was by far the toughest to judge.

After going back and forth for several hours, I decided on the orange cup fungus (aleuria aurantia) found by Eric Fields in the woods near Forks.

While this magnificent piece of mold is technically edible, it isn’t recommended by Nugent that you actually do so.

Instead, just look and admire.

• Largest mushroom — Thank goodness for social media.

If not for Facebook, we might never have been able to enjoy the Peninsula’s most mammoth mushroom of the season.

Courtney Popp and Anthony Graham found a giant puffball mushroom (calvatia gigantea) growing in their Sequim front yard and posted a photo of it on Popp’s Facebook page.

One of their “friends” informed them of the Mania, and soon enough, a picture of their 2-year-old son, Ryder, riding the mushroom like a horse found its way to my inbox.

Of the 27 entries for the category, it was the largest.

Although there were a number of cauliflower mushrooms that came close.

• Mushroom most resembling a notable figure — Not surprisingly, this was the most entertaining of the three categories this year.

A total of 12 photos were submitted, with entries going across the entire spectrum from the good (Mother Teresa) to the bad (Jacob Marley) to the ugly (Jabba the Hut).

One particularly motivated shroomer, Vickie DeMott of Port Angeles, camp up with three fungal look-alikes worthy of recognition.

That included a stunningly similar mushroom match of late comedian Jimmy Durante (featured in last Friday’s outdoors column).

In the end, however, I had to go give the nod to the Townsend family of Port Angeles.

Clay, Stacey and their three children (7-year-old Gracie, 4 ½-year-old Ezra and 4-month-old Lucy) scoured the Sol Duc Valley in search of shrooms.

The found some catching coral mushrooms, a chanterelle that looked like the Batman symbol and, best of all, a piece of fungus that was a dead-on ringer for Franklin the Turtle.

You know what they say, a family that finds fungus together . . .

Actually, I’m not sure how that goes.

________

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 matt.schubert@peninsuladailynews.com.

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