While it may no longer be thought of as the largest and oldest living organism in the world, the people of Crystal Falls refuse to acknowledge the other candidates and continue to celebrate their very own Humongous Fungus, a Armillaria gallica fungus colony that stretches across 37 acres, weighs in at 21,000 lbs., and is around 1,500 years old.
The title of largest living organism is a questionable one, and one that really depends on who you ask. Humongous was beat out by an Oregonian Armillaria solidipes fungus measuring in at 2,200 acres, but it’s disputed because although the colony is all of the same genetic makeup, it’s not actually connected, comprised of many smaller individual groups growing close together.
Despite the controversy, the residents of Crystal Falls refuse to be deterred from throwing a “bang-pow!” of a festival in honor of the benevolent mushroom. Every August, locals and tourists alike commemorate the achievement of the invasive, wood-decaying fungus by turning the picturesque town into a fabulous event.
For three days, revelers will enjoy a Pancake Breakfast, Volleyball and Golf Tournament, Horseshoe Tournament, softball games and a Tube Float down the river. Other major attractions include the Fungus Fest Parade, fireworks displays, and if there’s room for it after all of the pie eating contests and ice cream socials, it’s time for the major event – the preparation and eating of the Humongous Pizza.
The Humongous Pizza is, according to the confident residents of Crystal Falls, the largest mushroom pizza in the world at 10 ft. by 10 ft., not to be confused with the actual largest pizza in the world made in South Africa in 1990, which weighed in at 26,883 lbs. While perhaps a little exaggerated in grandiosity, at least it is made with mushrooms from the gargantuan guest of honor.
While the festival sounds like a pretty good time, the fungus itself isn’t much to look at, since the majority of it is underground. Visitors expecting to see a giant mushroom as far as the eye can see will be disappointed with the small, protruding heads of what are commonly known as “button mushrooms” poking out from the forest floor for a short time in the fall. It may just be best to stay in town and enjoy the party.
Know Before You Go
The festival events take place all over Crystal Falls each August. A schedule of events and their locations will be posted online in advance.