By Tom Nauman
The Fifth Annual Illinois State Morel Mushroom Hunting Championship and Spongy Fungi Festival was held on Saturday, May 6, 2000. Dr. Darrell Cox of Urbana, Illinois became the Grand Champion for the second straight year! He found 104 morel mushrooms in the alotted two hour time limit. Men's first place went to Bobby Pease of Nokomis, Illinois with 57 mushrooms. Women's First Place went to Sandy Rentfro of Nokomis, Illinois with 47 mushrooms. Bobby and Sandy are brother and sister. Another sibling is 1998 National Grand Champion Leonard Pease of Tower Hill, Illinois.
Men 's Second Place was won by Eric McDiarmid of Charlotte, Michigan with 38 mushrooms. Women's Second Place was won by Dorothy Thompson of East Peoria, Illinois with a mushroom count of 39.
A trophy was also given to Gale Cole of Palmyra, Illinois for the largest mushroom found during the competition. His mushroom measured 12 inches tall and 11 inches in circumfrence for a total measurment of 23 inches (one-half inch larger than the nearest competitor). Cammie Britt of Sheridan won a trophy for finding the smallest mushroom or 3.5" combined heighth plus circumfrence.
A total of 484 competitors from 13 states were bussed to the hunt site in Bureau County for the event.
The complete list of winners since 1996 is:
1996: Grand Champion - Phillip Gariboldi, Joliet, Illinois (293); Second Place - Mike Hanley, Kickapoo, Illinois (223); Third Place - Scott Volk, Hudson, Illinois (190); Largest Mushroom - Clem Hartke, Dietrich, Illinois (13.75" height plus girth); Smallest Mushroom - Dawn Jones, Chillicothe, Illinois, (too smalll to measure)
1997: Grand Champion - Mike Hanley, Kickapoo, Illinois (223); Men's First Place - Bill Hamilton, Athens, Illinois (172); Women's First Place - Gerry Miller, LaSalle, Illinois (91). Records missing for remaining 1997 results.
1998: Grand Champion - Charles Osborn (age 15), Newark, Ohio (55); Men's First Place - Alan Ware, Bettendorf, Iowa (54); Women's First Place - Nikol Keller, Wonderlake, Illinois (25). Men's Second Place - Tom Fleisher, Gilson, Illinois (52); Women's Second Place - Pamela Kodros, Alton, Illinois (16). Pamela tied with Susan Reed of Princeville, Illinois in count and the mushrooms were weighed to break the tie. Pamela's weighed 1 lb. 6 oz. Susan's weighed 1 lb. 1.5 oz. Largest Mushroom - John Hamilton, Springfield, Illinois (18.75"); Smallest Mushroom - Raymond Walker, Streator, Illinois (too small to measure)
1999: Grand Champion - Darrell Cox, Urbana, Illinois (120); Men's First Place - Eric McDiarmid, Charlotte, Michigan (43); Women's First Place - Pamela Kodros, Alton, Illinois (24); Men's Second Place - Brian Brummer, Effingham, Illinois (40); Women's Second Place - Kari Rieger, Peoria, Illinois (20); Largest Mushroom - Ray Francis, Orion, Illinois (14.5"); Smallest Mushroom - Eric McDiarmid, Charlotte, Michigan (5/16").
2000: Grand Champion - Darrell Cox, Urbana, Illinois (104); Men's First Place - Bobby Pease, Nokomis, Illinois (57); Women's First Place - Sandy Rentfro, Nokomis, Illinois (47); Men's Second Place - Eric McDiarmid, Charlotte, Michigan (38); Women's Second Place - Dorothy Thompson, East Peoria (39); Largest Mushroom - Gale Cole, Palmyra, Illinois (23"); Smallest Mushroom - Cammie Britt, Sheridan, Illinois (3.5").
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 http://www.morelmania.com/5Mushrooms/index.html. 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, Tom@MorelMania.com.