Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland, 510-238-2200. Date TBA, MSSF.org
Late every fall when the first rains fall, the Earth underfoot begins to stir. Massive networks of mycelium wake from dormancy. They drink in the water, munch on the autumn leaf fall, gather up their strength and burst forth en masse from the forest floor in one of nature's most-vibrant spectacles. The East Bay is the heart of the local mushroom community, and every winter after Thanksgiving the Fungus Fair celebrates this special time of the year with two days of booths, displays, demonstrations, and lectures. Behold the many tables, weighted with scores of fresh-picked varieties. Listen to mycologists discuss mushroom cultivation. Watch chefs prepare tasty edibles at outdoor cooking demos. Learn of oyster mushrooms' emerging role in oil spill remediation. One may also learn basic mushroom identification, grasping the crucial differences between the illustrious porcini, the mind-altering Psilocybe, and the nightmarish Amanita Death Cap. Less than $10 gets you in to this greatest freak show in town.