Morel Madness

Richmond, MO

If the Midwest has a signature, native-food delicacy, it must be the morel mushroom, whose temperamental appearances begin in mid-April and continue until about mid-May—depending on conditions. Look for them yourself in rural and wooded areas “when the lilacs are blooming,” according to some, or “when oak leaves are as big as squirrel’s ears,” according to others. Elm and oak groves are said to harbor morel colonies.

No place in Missouri celebrates the elusive morel more than the town of Richmond, proudly proclaimed “the mushroom capital of the world,” especially during its annual Mushroom Festival which pops up each May, this year on the first weekend, May 1-2. Like most community festivals, the Richmond Mushroom Festival touts plenty of craft and food booths, a carnival, kiddie tractor pull, 5K/10K runs and as they say, “much, much more.”

But for the mushroom purist it’s all about the morel. The Largest Morel contest draws hundreds of onlookers. Fresh morels will be available for purchase. But don’t ask where they were found. No true morel hunter shares his secret spots.