If mushrooms like damp conditions, apparently so do mushroom hunters, as 61 showed up to test out their mushroom hunting skills under rainy conditions at the Spores N' More festival. The area-wide event took place in Shelbyville, Sullivan, Bethany, Findlay and Windsor, and although the weather might have kept some people home, the mushroom faithful turned up in numbers.

Most will agree that rain or shine, the Morel mushroom is greatly prized for its flavor and is popular throughout the Midwest. In Shelbyville, people came from some distance to get in on the action.

Shelby County Chamber of Commerce President Mark Shanks remarked, "The weather didn't cooperate much, but I would call it a qualified success because we had good a number of people show up for the mushroom hunt." Shanks was also pleased with the mushroom auction. "Some of the mushrooms went for about $65.00 per pound."

The biggest mushroom of the hunt was found by Chris Pesch of Shelbyville, who came in with a Morel 7" in height and 7 1/2" in circumference for a total number of 14.5. Pesch found his giant near Williamsburg Hill, in some cleared pine tops surrounded by multifloral roses. "Mushrooms don't have a brain, as such, but they do know where they like to live," said Pesch.

The Grand Champion title for most mushrooms found went to Lindsey Suding of Arcola with 38. Suding was home from college at the University of Missouri in St. Louis and decided to go hunting with her sister, Jeanette Suding of Sullivan who took first place in the Women's division with 35. "We found most of our mushrooms in the Tower hill area," said Lindsey Suding holding up her bag of 'shrooms.

Winner of the Mens Division was Jason Markham with 19 mushrooms. Markham also had the dubious distinction of winning Smallest Mushroom with his midget morel at 1 7/8". Logan Urbeck won the Youth Division by bagging up 15.

The auction was as brisk as the wind whipping the tent canopy. After some exchanges, Garon Fyffe of Wauconda, IL scored the winning bid on the 7" beauty found by Pesch. "I'm glad I bought it, but it I wish I had found it," said Fyffe.

Russ Bond of Charleston came ready to walk away with some morels, as the high bidder on the next three auctions.

Brenda Reynolds, Board of Directors member of the Shelbyville Chamber of Commerce and Spores N' More committee said, "Despite the weather, food vendors had great sales. There was lots of activity under the big tent. It was amazing to see the Boy Scouts and their dads put that tent up so the vendors could have some cover." Reynolds also regretted the rainy conditions. "The weather didn't give us much of a break but that's a chance you take. They had 61 mushroom hunters that went out on the buses and the Moose Lodge prepared a great breakfast. As far as I could tell, all who participated had a great time."

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