Mushroom Magic

It's not an illusion: Festival needs full bag of tricks to pull off correctly

Posted 10/22/19

If all goes right each year at the Texas Mushroom Festival, a day later there’s no evidence it ever occurred.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Mushroom Magic

It's not an illusion: Festival needs full bag of tricks to pull off correctly

Posted

If all goes right each year at the Texas Mushroom Festival, a day later there’s no evidence it ever occurred.

“We want to make it look so people will drive by Sunday morning and wonder if there was just a festival there,” said Kevin Story, Madisonville Director of Public Works. “We are kind of like roadies to a band.

“The band is the Mushroom Festival and once they leave the stage, here come the roadies to clean it up.”

Downtown Madisonville played host to the 18th Annual Mushroom Festival Saturday, welcoming a number of diverse vendors to the Square for food, fun and the city’s most notable tradition. The annual event turns downtown into a temporary street fair and requires the management of many moving parts to make sure it’s safe, clean and fun.

“I have been here for 13 years, and for 13 years I have worked the Mushroom Festival,” Story said. “All in all, it is great for the city. We do not mind going out there to do what we have to do to make sure each festival is the best we have ever had.”

City employees worked tirelessly to ensure that the 2019 edition of the Mushroom Festival ran smoothly early and continuously. While much of their work naturally goes unnoticed, they began logistical preparations a week before the event and stayed well after the crowd dissipates and twilight falls on the festival to properly restore the Square to its former glory.

Inmates from the Ferguson Unit assisted with some of the sweeping and weeding necessary to prepare the streets for the event.

In the week leading up to the festival, the city prepares all of their signage and roadblocks to arrange proper detours around the Square during festival hours. They also prepare fence panels to enclose the lot across the Woodbine, which serves as the Gala Dinner location, where alcohol is served.

On the day of the festival, workers are out and about by 5 a.m., preparing to shut down the streets around the Square. They continually have to patrol their designated roadblocks to reestablish barriers that may have been moved by locals or visitors.

When the time comes, they will also assist the vendors with the process of setting up their tents and tables. This needs to be done efficiently as vendors start piling up on Highway 21, awaiting the time to set up their wares.

During the festival, the Madisonville Police Department was again responsible for directing pedestrian and vehicle traffic on Highway 21 through downtown. Nine MPD officers worked the event, some of whom were working double shifts.

The festival actually sprawls out in streets off the Square, which means the major thoroughfare of traffic bisects the attractions. Mixing pedestrians and regular traffic is not the ideal, authorities acknowledge.

“(Closing Highway 21) would be ideal, but since it is a major highway, there is no way we could shut that down with no other alternate route for the people to get through Madisonville,” said MPD Captain Richard Morris, who was in charge of security for the festival. “There is just no way to close it down.”

During the hours of the festival, the city workers walk around the Square and empty trash cans when necessary. They also use four-wheelers, donated by Madisonville Kawasaki, to transport individuals to their parked cars after the long day if need be.

“Once everybody is out of there, we leave the Square shut down so we can come in and clean it,” Story said.

The last thing the workers do is take down the detour signs, making it possible for drivers to cruise the Square once more.

And closing the book on the Texas Mushroom Festival for another year. Hopefully, without a trace. And giving workers a respite for another year.

“Yeah, Oct. 19 is great, but you sure look forward to Oct. 20,” Story said.

Comments