as told by Laurie Anderson – Innkeeper, China Beach Retreat & Audubon Cottage
The idea for the WMC remained in the “stew pot” for a couple of years before it came into fruition in the year 2000. The seed that generated my idea for a Wild Mushroom Celebration was planted at a fantastic Italian dinner called “Festival of Sun and Sea” in Portland at Pazzo Restaurant. David and I were with two friends, Veronica Williams (local forager extraordinaire) and Paul Wainamo (from Chinook who now lives in Alaska). We had a very fun evening and found the meal really inspiring. I wondered if we could launch something similar at the coast—sort of a “Festival of Land and Sea” (since we come up somewhat short in the sun department at times).
After that evening, (see attached scanned copy of an article in the magazine, Cucina Italiana) we put our sober heads together and decided to approach the gourmet restaurants and bed & breakfast establishments on our peninsula to see if they’d be interested in participating in a Wild Mushroom Celebration in the Fall. Everyone without exception thought it was a natural for our area and they were quite willing to participate. After all, it only meant that we would be promoting what we normally do at that time of year anyway…serve deliciously prepared wild mushrooms throughout the months of October and November. Several of us planned special events to draw attention to the Celebration.
Our local Visitor’s Bureau became involved when we tipped off Carol Zahorsky, their PR person, to what we were doing, and she ran with it. She sent out press releases to a variety of publications. The Wild Mushroom Celebration has been featured in numerous publications, such as the Alaska Airlines in-flight magazine, Travel and Leisure, The Daily Astorian, The Oregonian, The Olympian, and of course, The Chinook Observer, and many others.
Filmmakers Sora Blu and Andrew Tomayko, producers of the recently released Bog Town video, debuted their documentary All Wild, starring Pacific County’s famed “mushroom queen” Veronica Williams on October 12, 2020. The short is shown below.
Be sure to visit the Wild Celebration Website to discover what events are being offered.