LEARN, HUNT, BUY…MOREL MUSHROOMS during Ottawa’s Annual Midwest Morel Fest. This unique festival offers ‘everything mushrooms’ from the morel enthusiast to the curious observer!  All events take place at Jordon Block Park (Main & Rt 23/71N) on the first Saturday of May. Enjoy a large variety of handcrafted Vendors, Home Brewers Tasting Tent and Competition, Food, Music and kid activities. And don’t forget Saturdays MOREL UNIVERSITY where you can learn to identify morels then take off for a guided hunt.  We have set aside land JUST FOR YOU!  Also on Saturday, the CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT boasts a cash purse of $450 plus trophies.  Both hunts have limited availability.  Cost $30 adults/$15 kids. $10 more for walk-ons if bus space allows.

Register by calling the Ottawa Visitors Center at 815-434-2737





Classroom instruction led by Tom Nauman of Morel Mania, Inc. begins at 8:00 am. Then at approximately 8:45 am, Tom and other morel hunting experts will be your instructors for the Morel University field trip in the woods. The class is for beginners or anyone who wants to learn the finer points of shrooming: morel habitat, tree identification, correct harvesting techniques, and tricks of the trade. We will gather morels for approximately two hours.

The morels gathered will be divided equally among all participants. So, there will be no need to rush to gather the morels before someone else beats you to them. We do not guarantee there will be morels because we are at the mercy of Mother Nature. More important than the morels gathered that day are the morels you will be able to gather in the future with the knowledge you acquire.

Feel free to bring a camera, a knife to cut the mushrooms, and a compass or GPS. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Tom Nauman at 815-866-0319 or email tom@morelmania.com


Drawing to Determine Order of Selling at 8:00 a.m.

The order of selling will be determined by drawing at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday. Sellers should check-in their mushrooms Between 7:00 & 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. At 8:00 a.m. we will draw lots to determine which seller goes first, second, etc. Sellers submitting mushrooms for the auction after the drawing will sell on a first-come, first-serve basis after the last lot of sellers that submitted mushrooms before 8:00 a.m. have sold their mushrooms.

Mushrooms submitted for auction do not necessarily have to come from the festival hunt. If you gathered them prior to the hunt and they are still fresh, they may be submitted for auction.

Absolutely no washed or soaked mushrooms will be permitted to sell. It is against the law to sell any mushroom that has been washed. Please realize we are dealing with health concerns here and owe it to our buyers to not misrepresent our product. Package the morels in plastic bags in half-pound lots (approximate). A perforated vegetable bag works best. DO NOT SEAL THE BAG! All mushrooms will be inspected prior to sale.

MORELS ONLY, no elephant ears, red ear, beefsteak, etc. Half-free morels are permitted. The auction cashier will collect the appropriate amount from the buyer and deduct an auction fee based on the following:

up to $14, the fee is $2
 $15 to $29, the fee is $4
 $30 to $44, the fee is $6
 $45 to $59, the fee is $8
 $60 to $89, the fee is $9
 $90 to $119, the fee is $10
 $120 to $149, the fee is $12
 $150 and over, the fee is $14

Please submit mushrooms for auction at the auction table in the Festival tent as soon as you arrive, auction personnel arrive at 7:00 a.m. Don't let them spoil in your car! Sellers must be present when their mushrooms are sold.  

Mushrooms will be presented for sale based on the drawing at 8:00 am. The seller may sell a maximum of 8 packages when it is his/her turn at which time, if the seller has more mushrooms to sell, he/she will be given a second ticket to submit for the drawing. All proceeds from the auction will go to the City of Ottawa.

 Each seller must submit and sell their own mushrooms. You may not submit or sell mushrooms for another person. Each seller must have their mushrooms in a separate container. Due to public health restrictions, all sales must be administered through the Festival. Anyone discovered selling mushrooms otherwise will be escorted from the festival.

Keep Your Morels Fresh
Place ice in a sealed bag in the bottom of a cooler. Next place 2-3 layers of cardboard on top of the ice. Then place the morels on top of the cardboard in a mesh bag or at least an open ventilated bag. Don’t close the top of the cooler tightly. If it is a warm day, don’t place 
the cooler in the trunk of your car. Replace the ice as needed.

Note to Buyers
The mushrooms sold at auction are wild grown and harvested and not subject to regulatory inspection.

All of the mushrooms at the auction will be morels and are usually safe for  consumption. However, roughly 1 in 200 people is allergic to any food. So if you’ve never had morels before you should try just a taste, wait 24 hours, and if there are no ill effects then consume larger amounts.

The committee does not weigh the bags for sale and therefore the bags may or may not weigh exactly a half-pound. Please realize that if it is a dry, low humidity day the mushrooms may start to dry out and weigh less than when packaged. This won’t harm the mushrooms, they will reabsorb moisture when you wash them prior to consumption.

 These mushrooms have been picked in the wild and have not been approved as safe to eat by any expert or regulatory agency. Persons who suspect they have mushroom poisoning should seek medical care immediately if any of the following symptoms occur after consuming wild mushrooms: gastrointestinal irritation, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, dizziness, weakness, or hallucinations. It is strongly recommended to thoroughly cook these mushrooms prior to consumption. 


Sunday, May 6, 2017
 7a-8:45a Sign-in & Waivers
 8:45-Sign In Deadline
 (Hunt Forfeiture & Walk-Ins Scheduled)
 9a-12p Transportation & Illinois Sate Morel Mushroom Hunting Championship
 Cost: Ages 13 & over - $30, 12 and under - $15. Walk-ons will be charged $10 additional. All participants receive a Souvenir Mesh Sack

General Info: We have set a limit of 440 entrants on a first come-first served basis. Entries will close when we reach that number. Walk-ons will be permitted only if space allows also on a first come- first served basis. Also, the entry fee for walk-ons will be $10 additional. Check the http://www.pickusottawa,il.com web site for last minute details. The entry fee for ages 13 and over is $30.00. Each competitor will receive a mesh sack - a $15 value. The fee for children ages 12 and under is $15. IMPORTANT: Each competitor or his/her guardian will be required to sign a liability waiver. CONFIRMATIONS WILL NOT BE SENT. Your canceled check or credit card receipt is your confirmation. All pre-registered contestants will report to the sign-in table in the the large tent at the festival site before 8:45 a.m., on Saturday, May 6, 2017. If you have not signed-in by 8:45 a.m. your spot will be forfeited and sold to stand-by participants. All contestants will be bussed to the hunt site. NO OTHER VEHICLES WILL BE ALLOWED TO FOLLOW THE OFFICIAL HUNT VEHICLES. The busses are for contestants only. The Championship is open to anyone. Entries Limited to 440 Competitors - First Come / First Served

The Rules: The Midwest Morel Fest Grand Champion shall be the person that turns in the most morel mushrooms gathered in the allotted time at the hunt site. If the Champion is male, the male who turns in the second highest count of mushrooms will claim the Men's - First Place prizes, and the male who turns in the third highest count of mushrooms will claim the Men's - Second Place Prize. If the Champion is female, the female who turns in the second highest count of mushrooms will claim the Women's - First Place prizes, and the female who turns in the third highest count of mushrooms will claim the Women's - Second Place Prize. Judge's decisions are final.

The hunt will be exactly 2 hours and will begin with a shotgun start - bring a watch!. No one is permitted in the woods until the start is announced. Hunters will be penalized 10 mushrooms for being late. An additional 10 mushrooms will be deducted for each minute thereafter. Anyone more than 10 minutes late will be disqualified and will forfeit their mushrooms. Contestants cannot be accompanied in the woods by non-contestants. Anyone observed pooling mushrooms or getting unauthorized help in any manner will be disqualified by the hunt officials and will forfeit their mushrooms. Other complaints may be submitted to the hunt officials for settlement. Only morel mushrooms (species Morchella) will be eligible during the contest. IMPORTANT: Mushrooms must be torn or cut above ground level. Any mushrooms showing signs of "root" damage shall be disqualified.  Mushrooms must be turned in in the furnished mesh bag - plastic or paper bags are not allowed. You may use you own mesh bag if you attach the furnished mesh bag to it so we know who the mushrooms belong to. If any contestant does not agree with the official count of their mushrooms, they must request to the hunt officials a recount before the mushrooms are removed from the custody of the hunt officials. Any count of mushrooms done without the supervision of the hunt officials will not be considered valid. All bags of mushrooms will be available for the contestants to pick up after the mushrooms are counted. It is the responsibility of the contestants to pick up their own mushrooms. The hunt officials will not be responsible for bags of mushrooms left after the winners are announced. Contestants will be given a general map of the hunt site. All surrounding land is privately owned and out-of-bounds. Neither the hunt officials nor the owners of the hunt site will be responsible for anyone arrested for hunting on private land or for accidents. Anyone determined to have trespassed during the competition will be disqualified from collecting any prizes and their mushroom will be confiscated. Additional rules will be announced at the hunt site.

The Midwest Morel Fest/Illinois State Grand Champion Morel Mushroom Hunter will receive a trophy and $200.00. The Men’s First Place and Women’s First Place winners will each receive a trophy and $75.00. The Women’s Second Place and Men’s Second Place winners will each receive a certificate and $50.00. In the event of a tie, the total weight of the mushrooms shall determine winner.