Mushroom Hunting: Magnolia

By Tom Nauman

Magnolia, Ill. -- On Saturday, May 4 hundreds of mushroom hunters from Illinois and neighboring states will meet in Magnolia for The Seventh Annual Illinois State Morel Mushroom Hunting Championship. We're also pleased to announce that the event has taken on an international flair this year in that there are a total of six entries from the Canadian provinces of Saskatoon and British Columbia.

The contestants will be bussed to a secret hunting site.The champion will be the person who gathers the most morel mushrooms in the allotted two hour time limit. Prizes and trophies will be awarded in both women's and men's classes. Contestants must be registered before April 27.

Mr. Gale Cole of Palmyra, Illinois won last year's event by finding 110 morel mushrooms in the two hour time limit. There were a total of 520 competitors.

The Spongy Fungi Festival will begin on Friday evening, May 3 with a Welcome to Magnolia followed by a street dance. The informal gathering hosted by Magnolia American Legion Post 254 will take place at the Magnolia Fire Station beginning at 6:30 p.m. The featured speaker will be morel expert Larry Lonik. Mr. Lonik is an author of three books about morels and has successfully grown morels indoors. Attendees will get to sample morel soup while supplies last.

On Saturday other activities in Magnolia will include a craft show, children's activities all day, a mushroom auction, and mushroom cooking demonstrations.

The mushroom auction will begin at 2 p.m. Mushroom hunters are invited to bring fresh morel mushrooms in half-pound bags. More than 300 bags of morels were sold last year.

The May 4 date for the 2002 championship was selected because it most likely will fall during the peak of the morel hunting season in central Illinois which usually lasts only for a two to four week period around the end of April and early May.

A registration fee of $16.00 to cover the costs of staging the championship will be asked of contestants. All other activities are free of charge.

For more information about the Seventh Annual Illinois State Morel Mushroom Hunting Championship or to get further details on registration, contact organizers Tom and Vicky Nauman, R.R. 1, Box 42, Magnolia, Ill. 61336, or call 309/364-3319. Information is also available on the internet at

Remember, whenever you want to try eating a mushroom you're not familiar with, check it in at least two field guides. If they say it's edible, try just a nibble, wait 24 hours, and if there are no ill effects then consume larger amounts. All past articles are available Please feel free to contact us with questions or comments. Especially if you have ideas or suggestions for future columns: Tom and Vicky Nauman, Morel Mania, RR1 - Box 42, Magnolia, IL 61336, Phone 309-364-3319, Fax 309-364-2960,