During Mushroom Festival weekend, Carol Lowe is in full volunteer mode. From Friday’s Community Parade through to the final clean-up sweep of the Festival, Carol is there lending a hand to get things done. She is always bursting with energy and has a huge smile on her face. Her enthusiasm is infectious.
“I volunteer because I love Kennett Square and being a part of the Kennett Square community,” she says. “It is fantastic working with like-minded, caring people who work hard to showcase our community during the Mushroom Festival.”
Among the responsibilities she’s taken on during the Mushroom Festival is that of Chief Recycler. She corrals a group of student volunteers each year and works to see that as much of the Festival’s trash as possible can be recycled. The crew changes the recycled trash bins often and even separates recyclable trash from the regular trash as needed. It isn’t the most glamorous of jobs, but it is necessary and greatly appreciated.
Carol and her husband Carl, are long-time residents of Kennett Square. They raised two children here, Chelsea (KHS Class of 2009) and Carl Jr. (KHS Class of 2013). Carol is a social worker with a private practice, specializing in working with adolescents and troubled teens. She is also on the Board of Directors for Family Promise of Southern Chester County. She was on the Demons Light Committee that was responsible for lighting Kennett High School’s stadium and continues to volunteer at the high school as well as St. Patrick’s Church.
“I believe the work the Mushroom Festival does is invaluable,” she reflects. “It is an integral part of the community I am proud to serve.”
Photo above: Carol Lowe (right) is congratulated by (left to right) Board Chairman Randy Lieberman, Festival Coordinator Kathi Lafferty and Tommy Lafferty.
2016’s Honorary Chair: Louise D’Amico
Louise D’Amico’s support for the Mushroom Festival is undeniable over the past 30 years. Her enthusiasm is contagious. For all that she does to support and promote the Mushroom Festival, D’Amico was named the 31st Mushroom Festival’s Honorary Chair.
D’Amico’s name appears throughout the early records of the Mushroom Festival taking on committee chair roles. In the recent years she’s led the effort to organize the staffing of the Mushroom Sales Booths and Mushroom Pick-up Trucks.
She was the first to bring Fun Gus, the Festival’s mascot, to life. She could be found walking the streets of town during the Festival sweating inside the furry, 8-foot tall and wide costume or holding on for dear life on a float or in the back of a car for a parade.
Her family’s business, ToJo Mushrooms, is a strong supporter of the Mushroom Festival. Their trucks can be found throughout the Festival filled with all the area growers’ mushrooms ready for guests to take home.
D’Amico was completely surprised and speechless (a rarity) when her name was announced as this year’s Honorary Chair. She recovered quickly and asked, “So what do I need to do as the Honorary Chair?” The answer: Be yourself.
2015’s Honorary Chair: RoRo Ferranto
For the 30th Annual Mushroom Festival the Mushroom Festival’s Board of Directors chose RoRo Ferranto as this year’s Honorary Chairperson. She, along with two others (attorney Frank Felcetti and reporter Carol Berzon) started the Mushroom Festival in the mid-1980s and has had a presence at the Festival ever since.
Ferranto served on the Mushroom Festival’s Board for its first 15 years. As founder of Buona Foods, the Buona breaded fried mushroom booth at the Mushroom Festival is a perennial favorite. The Ferranto’s company also sponsors the annual National Fried Mushroom Eating Championship at the Festival and supplies the product that is devoured at the event.
At the Mushroom Festival’s Spring Gala, when the honorary chair was announced, Gale Ferranto spoke on behalf of her mother RoRo, “My mother was diagnosed with ALS last year. It has taken her voice, but not her energy, spirit and enthusiasm,” she said. She read her mothers words, concluding, “It makes me very proud to walk the street at the Festival and awe over what this event has become. Thank you for this honor. It is an honor for me to associate with all of you!”
Terry and Rich Forte honored as 2014’s Honorary Chairs
For 2014 the Mushroom Festival’s Board of Directors chose Terry and Rich Forte as its honorary chairpersons because of their dedication to the Festival and the hours they have dedicated to making the Mushroom Festival the best it could be over the years.
Rich served multiple terms on the Festival’s Board of Directors over the years. He was instrumental in developing and implementing the Growers’ Exhibit. He can still be found there during the Festival talking with guests about the commercial mushroom growing process.
Terry also served multiple terms on the Mushroom Festival’s Board of Directors, although at differing terms from her husband. She always brings a cheerful can-do attitude to whatever needs done, from organizing the annual Spring Gala, to a Friday Night Dance Party, to organizing the Souvenir Booth, selling admission wrist bands and decorating the Festival with red and white balloons. You can always count on her being on the street during the Festival helping where ever she is needed.
Mark and Jo Beth Thompson, 2013’s Honorary Chairs
This year the Mushroom Festival chose a husband and wife team, Mark and Jo Beth Thompson, as its honorary chairpersons because of their dedication to the Festival and the hours they have dedicated to making the Mushroom Festival the best it could be over the years.
Mark became involved with the Festival through his volunteer efforts with the Miss Mushroom Pageant, 30 years ago. He played a role for many years in organizing the annual Community Parade. He also served three terms on the Mushroom Festival”s Board of Directors and was its president for two years. He served on the Board as the Mushroom Festival transitioned from a small town local event to one with a national appeal and reputation as one of the best food festivals in the country.
A great cook herself, Jo Beth used her talents to bring a diverse array of guest chefs to the Culinary Tent each year. Jo Beth spends most of her time during the Festival in the Culinary Tent hosting the chefs and supporting them for their mushroom cooking demonstrations. She also organized one of the Festival”s most popular events: the Amateur Mushroom Soup Cook-Off. One of her major accomplishments was working to bring a professional demonstration kitchen to the Culinary Tent.
Mark and Jo Beth grew up and live in KennettSquare, Pa. Mark graduated with Kennett High School’s Class of 1968 and Jo Beth with the Class of 1970. Jo Beth works for Kitchen Kapers, in Wilmington, Delaware. Mark is the Sales Manager at Diver Chevrolet, in Wilmington, Delaware. They have two children Matthew and Patrick and one grandchild, Kacey.
The Mushroom Festival Board of Directors thanks Mark and Jo Beth Thompson for their years of service. As Honorary Chairs both Mark and Jo Beth will ride at the head of the Community Parade this year. They will also select a charity to receive a donation in their name from the Mushroom Festival.
Tommy Lafferty, 2012 Honorary Chairperson
Tommy Lafferty is a champion of Kennett Square, the mushroom industry, and the Mushroom Festival. For his service and dedication to the community, the industry, and our Festival, the Mushroom Festival”s Board of Directors is pleased to announce him as the 27th Annual Mushroom Festival”s Honorary Chairman.
During the Mushroom Festival Tommy is everywhere. Among his favorite duties is as the Master of Ceremonies for the Community Parade and all the events in the Culinary Tent. At other times he can be found driving a golf cart through the streets delivering supplies, equipment and/or people to where they are needed. Tommy is around from beginning to end, lending a hand to be sure the Festival is running smoothly and Kennett Square is showcased at its best.
As the husband of Mushroom Festival Coordinator Kathi Lafferty, Tommy supports her through all the craziness involved in organizing such a huge endeavor.
Tommy is a mushroom grower and co-owner of P. A. Lafferty and Sons, with his brothers Phil and Steve. The company is part of the Country Fresh cooperative of mushroom growers. He has served on various mushroom industry committees over the years.
He was born, raised and still resides in New Garden Township, graduating from Kennett High School in 1969. Tommy and Kathi raised three children Kelleanne, Erin and Chris and are grandparents to Keira, Austin, Addison, Anthony, Ava and Chloe.
As the Honorary Chairman, Tommy will be at the 27th Annual Festival doing what he always does, just this year with this recognition for his efforts.
Leon Spencer, 2011 Honorary Chairman
Leon Spencer is a great supporter of Kennett Square, the Mushroom Festival and the mushroom industry. He can be found lending his voice and his years of volunteer experience to many Kennett Square events and organizations throughout the year. Because of his dedication to the area and his positive influences in the community, the Mushroom Festival chose Leon Spencer as its 2011 Honorary Chairman.
Leon is most well-known for his leadership as the Mayor of Kennett Square for 11 years (1999 through January 2010). As Mayor, Leon championed great causes and programs to benefit the citizens of the community.
Leon grew up in Kennett Square and graduated from Kennett High School in 1968.
Leon Spencer received a bachelor’s degree in music education from Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio and attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey for graduate studies in vocal pedagogy and choral conducting. He taught music in the Newark City and Gahanna-Jefferson public school districts in Ohio and was the director of music at the Second Presbyterian Church in Newark. As an Ohioan, he served on the boards of several organizations including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America and Kiwanis International.
Working for the betterment of our community since returning to Chester County in 1991, Leon served as vice president of the board for the Kennett Consolidated School District (KCSD) and was president of the board for the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU). As well, he was secretary for the corporate board of the YMCA of the Brandywine Valley and was music director for Coatesville Presbyterian, New London Presbyterian and Kennett Presbyterian churches.
He currently serves as a member of the board for the Chester County School Authority (CCSA), the Chester County Regional Educational Service (CCRES), Kendal- Crosslands Communities (KCC), Kennett Area Community Development (KACD) and the vestry of the Episcopal Church of the Advent. As a member of the National Association of Sports Public Address Announcers (NASPAA), he announces football and basketball for Kennett High School, is a community liaison for the CCIU and is co-owner of Pro Musica Studio in Kennett Square. He resides in the borough with his wife Kathryn.
For the 2011 Mushroom Festival Leon will lead us all in a remembrance the events ten years ago on 9/11/01 during the Community Parade.
Jim Angelucci, 2010 Mushroom Festival Honorary Chairman
Jim Angelucci is one of Kennett Square’s mushroom ambassadors. Growing up in Kennett Square, his first job was cleaning mushroom beds. He started his own small mushroom farm in 1970 after leaving the Navy. In 1973 he joined Phillips Mushroom Farms as an assistant grower and currently is the general manager.
In the mushroom industry Jim served multiple terms on the board of the American Mushroom Institute and as chairman of the organization for three years. He is currently serving his fifth term on the National Mushroom Council, having served as president of this organization twice.
He also serves on various community boards in the Kennett Square area including the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Chester County United Way.
For many years Jim Angelucci served on the Mushroom Festival’s Board of Directors and as its chair. Jim remembers the “olden days” when the Festival seemed to last a month. There were Mushroom Dinners at the Kennett Inn prepared by guest chefs from Philadelphia; there was the Art Show, which was held a different time from the Street Festival; and there was the pageant to crown the Festival Queen.
Jim also can’t believe this is only the 25th Mushroom Festival. He thinks maybe it’s just been 25 years since we started keeping track!
Today, Jim can be found lending his expertise and support to the various projects associated with the Mushroom Festival.
For his dedication to the mushroom industry, Kennett Square, and the Mushroom Festival, it is a fitting tribute to have Jim as our Honorary Chairman for our Silver Celebration.