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Humungous Fungus Fest discussed with CF Council

CRYSTAL FALLS — The Crystal Falls City Council held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Jan. 13. The meeting itself was straightforward, with a presentation and a few new matters for the year that the council directed its attention toward. A presentation by the Iron County Economic Chamber Alliance took up much of the meeting’s sub-hour runtime.
     Iron County Economic Chamber Alliance, or ICECA, is a 501(c)6 nonprofit. It is a county-wide organization that assists local businesses and promote Iron County in other sections of the country. It also works with other organizations in the county or state to improve the county’s business and tourism environments.
    Chamber Director Erika Sauter discussed economic developments in the county over the past year, and also upcoming activities, particularly the Humongous Fungus festival held in Crystal Falls during the summer.
    Sauter distributed a form to the council outlining the basics of the festival, and provided information derived from the 2019 event. The festival will be held on July 31 and August 1 of this year, and Sauter described the event as a “priority festival” that could bring in tourism to the city, and ultimately be an economic driver for the area.
    One example of an activity that the ICECA feels has some potential for growth along those lines is guided mushroom forays, which have been ongoing over the past two years. Two groups of 20 people are sent out, with supervision, to hunt for mushrooms in the woods. While the honey fungus – the mushroom that the Humongous Fungus festival celebrates – is not in season at that time, participants can find other mushrooms and edible materials on their journeys.
    Sauter reported people from a wide range of locations, ranging from as close as Wisconsin to as far away as the state of Washington, actively sought out the tours and then participated in this activity. As a result, ICECA feels that the tours could bear expansion going forward, specifically adding an additional group to the tour to match the interest in it.
    In addition to expanding tours into the woods, Sauter suggested that educational materials regarding the fungus be made available. This included documentaries on the fungus, and markers indicating the general area where the fungus could be found. The materials would be made approachable based on current social preferences; for example, the fungus markers would be called “selfie signs.”

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