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The Stick That Started It All

Vicky and Tom Nauman
of Morel Mania

Morel Mania, Inc. is owned by Vicky and Tom Nauman of Magnolia, Illinois. Both have been dedicated morel hunters their entire lives. Neither can remember their first mushroom hunt, but Tom is sure his was while he was still in the womb.

In Autumn of 1992, Vicky had watched the children of some friends for a weekend while the friends attended an out-of-state festival. When the friends returned, they presented Vicky with a hiking stick they had purchased at the festival that had a morel mushroom on top. Vicky thought it was great because she could use it on the first hunt of the season to help remind her what she was looking for. It was beautiful in it's own way, but Tom's comment was that it didn't really look exactly like a morel and it wouldn't fool him in the woods. Vicky's response was, "I suppose you think you could do better?"

The challenge had been made. However, Tom didn't own any tools and his last attempt at wood carving was twenty-four years beforehand in high school shop class. He visited Vicky's dad, Charlie Dalrymple of Henry, Illinois, the next weekend. Charlie was an avid woodworker with a complete wood shop in his basement. Tom's first attempt at carving a morel wouldn't have fooled anyone in the woods either. But he kept at it and his morels soon became realistic enough that people actually wanted to buy them.

Tom and Vicky soon realized that there were many other "Shroomers" and "Roons" that would appreciate morel products and accurate information. Their first catalog only contained a few items, but the response was tremendous.

They also attended many festivals to sell our products and in 1996 they started the Illinois State Morel Mushroom Hunting Championship. They have taken as many as 698 people at one time to go on a competitive morel hunt. After twelve years, the competition was taxing their resources and they just couldn't handle the time and financial requirements anymore. With regrets, they transferred the event to a group in Henry, Illinois in 2008. In 2009, it became the victim of the weak economy and was not held in 2009 or 2010. Plans for 2011 are undetermined at this time.

In 2011, Morel Mania formed a partnership with the City of Ottawa, Illinois to host a new event, The Midwest Morel Fest. The Ottawa event will feature the popular Morel University, a Championship competition, and a Morel Auction.

Tom still carves mushrooms - thousands of them from his workshop in the backyard. People often ask how he does it. The simple answer is to start with a piece of wood and remove anything that doesn't look like a morel! They also ask how long it takes to carve a morel that looks so realistic. The answer is "since 1992 - nineteen years."

The morel mushroom is our passion. It consumes us. It is who we are and what we do. We eat, breathe, sleep, drink, dream, talk, walk, and live morel mushrooms. Morel Mania, Inc. remains a family owned and operated business. We have no employees. If you call us, you will talk to one of the owners of the company. We remain committed to providing only the best morel mushroom products, information, and activities. Thanks for letting us serve you.

Our Business is Always Mushrooming!

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