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Ready, set, hunt: Morel Fest returns to Ottawa

Activities include home brew tasting

Those attending the Midwest Morel Fest on Saturday, May 5, in Ottawa will have the opportunity to browse and purchase almost anything morel mushroom-related from various vendors.
Those attending the Midwest Morel Fest on Saturday, May 5, in Ottawa will have the opportunity to browse and purchase almost anything morel mushroom-related from various vendors.

Recent rainfalls arrived just in time for Saturday's Midwest Morel Fest in Ottawa.

The rain is considered a necessary ingredient to stimulate the mushroom population in what experts are calling a late season for morels.

Still, the festival at the Jordan block, paired with the Morel Mash Up Home Brewers Tasting Competition, will go on.

Activities begin at 8 a.m. with Morel University. The seminar, a half-hour class for novice mushroom hunters, returns. Participants are taken to a hunt site and guided along as they identify and gather morels.

The guided hunt, which begins at 9 a.m., is full, with same-day registration for the championship hunt. Hunters are bused to an undisclosed location. All participants will receive a souvenir morel mesh sack.

A vendor market and children's morel painting return to the festivities. A change from previous festivals, there is no auction this year.

Certified experts will examine all mushrooms prior to sale. Washed and soaked mushrooms will be rejected for health reasons.

If fungi isn't your thing, there also will be more than 50 different brews from clubs across Illinois in the Mash Up. Tasting tickets are available at the door three for $5.

Judges will pick the best brew and the mayor's choice. Patrons will vote on their favorite as well.

Schedule of events

7:30 a.m.: Hunt and auction sign-in. The hunts costs $50 at the door, or $35 for those 12 and under.

8 to 8:30 a.m.: Morel University (learn how to hunt morels)

8 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Morel (mushrooms only) and vendor market

8:45 a.m.: Buses depart for hunt

9 to 11:30 a.m.: Guided and championship hunt

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Children morel painting

Noon to 4 p.m.: Morel Mash Up Home Brewers Tasting

1 p.m.: Championship awards

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