Every year in Colorado a vibrant fungi focused festival comes to life in a small hippie town called Telluride. I was inspired by the film Fantastic Fungi and decided to travel from Los Angeles to the fresh aired state of Colorado to document the annual fascination and focus on mushroom culture. Upon arrival I was taken aback by lush forests that carpeted the landscape. Telluride is cozy and intimate, enhanced by the locals’ charm and the mountainscape that surrounds the town.
As part of the ticket to the festival I was given access to attend forays throughout several days. From here I documented the mycologists forays in these magical forests. A ‘foray’ is essentially a field trip to collect wild mushrooms led by experienced mycologists. While foraging for edible and rare mushrooms I was instantly drawn into the enthusiasm, knowledge, and expertise of the community, as well as the vast diversity of local mushrooms. Known locally as Shroomfest, the annual Telluride festival occurs over five days, in which experts discuss and educate on mushrooms as both food and medicine. The end of the festival culminates with a huge parade in which the community gathers and celebrates all aspects of mushroom culture.
The parade featured a costume contest in which fungi fans dressed from head to toe in mushroom ensembles, I witnessed so many creative concepts and I myself even donned a fly agaric inspired beret. The winners of the contest were a group of five who teamed up and went all out to resemble a package of enoki mushrooms.
I find that I love attending events where people put themselves on display, and where participation and spirit is at an all time high. The Telluride Mushroom Fest is the epitome of mushroom lovers coming together and sharing their knowledge and experience with the outside world. Coming out of this, I left with a greater appreciation and respect for the mycelium community, as well as full intention to return next year to learn even more.
Fungi fans dressed from head to toe in costume, sounds of drums and laughter echoed in the air, and all sorts of local mushrooms could be found. Mystical Mycelium documents my experience and journey of the Telluride Mushroom Festival.
Skyler Dahan (b.1989) is a photographer and filmmaker currently based in Los Angeles. His photography is orientated around the off beat moments in his native Los Angeles as well as his travels around the world. Intrigued by the characters and landscapes that he observes Skyler brings them into the spot light while adding his own narrative.