Morels and Microbrews draws crowd

Visitors taste samples from the Broadway Brewery in Columbia during the first Morels and Microbrews Festival in downtown Fulton on Saturday. The event, a fundraiser for the Brick District Association, drew more than 200 people to Court Street to taste microbrews and morel mushrooms.

Visitors taste samples from the Broadway Brewery in Columbia during the first Morels and Microbrews Festival in downtown Fulton on Saturday. The event, a fundraiser for the Brick District Association, drew more than 200 people to Court Street to taste microbrews and morel mushrooms. Elyssa Mann

Live music, festival food, face painting and beer — all markers of an almost-summer festival.

The Morels and Microbrews Festival kicked off Saturday on Court Street. Put on by the Brick District Association, the festival attracted well over 200 visitors between 1-5 p.m., some of whom were alumni from Westminster College and William Woods University that were attending their respective alumni weekends. A trolley ran between the two schools and the festival for the duration of the event.

“The perfect weather just made today even better, because of how cold it was earlier this week,” said Tom Riley, a member of the Brick District Association. “It’s going to be a great day.”

The event attracted several vendors, including Fulton VFW Post 2657, which was the primary food vendor, 1851 Underground, which also served food, and Bocomo Bay, a vendor from Columbia that sold home beer and wine-making equipment and supplies.

Featured microbreweries included Broadway Brewery from Columbia, Boulevard Brewing Company, Mother’s Brewing Company from Springfield and Prison Brews from Jefferson City. Those who wished to sample the beers were able to do so by purchasing a tasting glass for $20. Patrons were then able to sample as they wished.

Past the food and booths sat a lone cooler, housing gallon-bags of wrinkly mushrooms — the morels of the festival. These mushrooms are considered to be one of the best-flavored varieties available, and have a nutty, crisp taste. The mushrooms can be difficult to find, and spawn “morel hunts” every year. These fungi are prized among gourmet chefs, and in some regions, have a hefty market price.

The morels available at the festival were to be auctioned off for charity, with proceeds to go toward finding a cure for cystic fibrosis.

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