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November 24, 2022

Mushroom Mardi Gras returns to Morgan Hill in 2022

Q&A with festival Executive Director Sunday Minnich

After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras will return to the city’s downtown for Memorial Day weekend in 2022, according to organizers.

The two-day outdoor food, art and music festival will take place May 28-29, centering on the grounds of the Community and Cultural Center at 17000 Monterey Road. Admission is free, and parking is available at public lots throughout downtown Morgan Hill.

Now in its 41st year, the Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras nonprofit organization has run the annual festival as a fundraiser for scholarships for local students, and grants for other local nonprofits.

The festival has been a popular event among Morgan Hill locals and visitors, drawing tens of thousands of patrons each year through 2019. The event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on public gatherings. 

Mushroom Mardi Gras Executive Director Sunday Minnich answered a few more questions about this year’s festival highlights, changes to the 2022 event and the nonprofit’s other recent activities.

What excites you and the MMG board the most about the return of in-person festivities for the first time in three years?  

We are excited to be continuing a 41-year tradition in Morgan Hill by providing a fun-filled family festival that people look forward to each year and have missed. We think people are ready to get out and enjoy outdoor activities once again. 

Sunday Minnich

We are also excited about being able to once again support education in our community, which includes scholarships to high school seniors who reside in the Morgan Hill Unified School District, and stipends to school clubs and nonprofit organizations who work the festival by holding a successful festival.

What are the expected highlights of the 2022 Mushroom Mardi Gras? Any new programs, events, features, etc. on tap?  

We will still have all the attractions everyone has come to love but with the Hale Lumber construction and realignment of Depot Street we are losing one-third of the Community and Cultural Center parking lot and the half of block we used on Depot Street between Fifth Street and Dunne Avenue, so we have had to be creative in revising our layout. 

We will still have two stages with live bands at the Downtown Amphitheater and Fourth Street, but won’t have our community stage this year. We will be moving some of our beverage stations around and downsizing the Munchkinland rides.

Other than that, we will still have plenty of shopping at over 250 vendor booths, live entertainment with Entourage The Band and Puro Bandido as our headliners, strolling entertainment, gourmet food booths, Mushroom Expo, cooking demonstration, premium wine tasting and beer and wine gardens. 

There will be something for everyone to enjoy.

What has the MMG organization been up to during the pandemic as far as fundraising or activity in general?  

The Board of Directors have still been meeting over the past two years to discuss possible fundraising but with the uncertainty of the pandemic and the constant changing of regulations for events, we felt it better to wait until Santa Clara County allowed outdoor events again.

What are the latest updated numbers for funds raised and awarded by the Mushroom Mardi Gras for scholarships, grants and other funding for students and organizations over the years? 

Over the past 39 years the Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras has awarded over $1.25 million in scholarships, $7,500 in mini grants to elementary and middle schools and approximately $525,000 in stipends to school groups and nonprofit organizations who work the festival. 

Has MMG been able to award scholarships and/or grants since the pandemic started (2020 and 2021)? 

As a non-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization, the main goal of the Mushroom Mardi Gras Festival is to award 100% of our net revenue to education based on the previous year’s income from the festival. Unfortunately we lost about $50,000 in revenue in 2019 due to inclement weather on Sunday and close to $20,000 by cancelling the 2020 festival due to Covid-19. Because of this loss, we were unable to award any scholarships for the past two years. 

The Board of Directors met in early January and agreed our plan for 2022 is to award scholarships but we will need to wait until after the festival to determine what that amount will be, based on our net revenue this year. 

We have redesigned our sponsorship packages into Marketing/Visibility Partnerships to hopefully entice businesses to support the festival this year which will in turn help us keep the festival free admission for all income levels to enjoy and provide the much anticipated scholarships the high school seniors depend on, and the stipends the school groups and nonprofit organizations receive for their fundraising efforts.  

Do you anticipate any Covid-19 related public health precautions will be required at the 2022 Mushroom Mardi Gras?  

We will continue to monitor the regulations for outdoor events that the Santa Clara County Health Department and CDC implement for outdoor events and follow any protocols in order to hold the festival. 

Details

What: The 41st festival held by the Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras nonprofit features a variety of live music, food and merchandise vendors, art displays, demonstrations and the Mushroom Expo. The event is a fundraiser to provide scholarships to local students and revenues for local nonprofits. 

When: 10am-7pm May 28; 10am-6pm May 29, 2022

Where: Downtown Morgan Hill

Admission: Free

More info: https://mhmmg.org/home

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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