Annual Fungi Fest returns this week to Valdivia

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Photo: Marcelo Cárcamo / Fundación FungiPhoto: Marcelo Cárcamo / Fundación Fungi 

By Evelyn Pfeiffer
There is no doubt that the fungi kingdom has been gaining in popularity in recent years in Chile. There are a plethora of large exhibitions, offers for photographic tours, new field guides, a growing number of mycological groups and, of course, there is Fungi Fest, the successful festival that takes place in Valdivia every year to help build a greater appreciation for the fascinating world of fungi.
Yet, although the knowledge and appreciation of fungi is on the rise, it’s said that we barely know 5 percent of the fungi species that exist around the world. In fact, it was just 50 years ago that the fungi first began to be classified among living beings as being part of a different realm from animals and plants. The new classification came after scientists discovered the unique characteristics they have, such as not needing sunlight in order to survive.
These organisms play a fundamental role in the existence of ecosystems: they are the main decomposers of matter, allowing the recycling of large quantities of organic waste that are then utilized by other organisms such as plants and animals.
Photo: Marcelo Cárcamo / Fundación FungiPhoto: Marcelo Cárcamo / Fundación Fungi
Photo: Marcelo Cárcamo / Fundación FungiPhoto: Marcelo Cárcamo / Fundación Fungi
Fungi have also been vital to the survival of human beings since the discovery in 1928 of the antibacterial effects of the fungus Penicillium, thus creating the first antibiotics to treat previously incurable diseases. And not only that! They have provided gourmet pleasures to man, such as wine, beer, bread and cheeses as well as edible wild mushrooms of great culinary value like truffles, morels or mushrooms.
The fourth version of Fungi Fest returns to celebrate all those unique features of the fungi kingdom and more through educational lectures, exhibitions, workshops, excursions and live cooking demonstrations.
When? May 16-19, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Where? Science Tent of the Centro de Estudios Cientificos (CECs) located at 514 Arturo Prat in Valdivia.

Price? Free admission.