Nate Greiner, of Greiner Mushrooms, carves a morel mushroom out of a tree stump April 18, 2021, in Czech Village. The tree was among many damaged in the August 2020 derecho windstorm in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

By Cindy Hadish

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Czech Village has found a silver lining from last year’s derecho.

The hurricane-strength windstorm uprooted trees and created havoc throughout Iowa, hitting the Cedar Rapids area particularly hard.

Trees that toppled in Czech Village damaged restrooms next to the Kosek Bandstand, but one of those is now serving a higher purpose.

Trees uprooted and broken in half during the August 2020 derecho windstorm damaged the restrooms in Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Chainsaw artist Nate Greiner, 27, of Greiner Mushrooms, has spent the past week using his skills to carve a giant morel mushroom out of the stump.

“It’s hard to keep up,” Greiner, of Solon, said of the requests he has received for chainsaw carving jobs after the derecho.

Mary Kay McGrath, who owns a number of buildings in Czech Village, and art consultant Janelle McClain, had hoped to have Greiner carve one of the tree stumps during Houby Days, but Greiner discovered the wood had rotted. Still, wood in the other stump turned out to be perfect for the nearly 7-foot-tall creation, which he completed prior to the festival.

Chainsaw artist Nate Greiner starts work on the morel mushroom carving April 18, 2021, in Czech Village. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Houby Days – houby is the Czech word for mushrooms – celebrates the beloved morel with food, a mushroom contest and other festivities in the historic business district on 16th Avenue SW.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Houby Days was canceled in 2020, but a scaled-back version is returning this year. See photos from the 2019 Houby Days.

Amy Winker, owner of the Red Frog, 88 16th Ave. SW, said organizers are following public health guidelines as they navigate the return of the festival from Friday, May 14, through Sunday, May16.

“We’re not going to have a parade or carnival,” Winker said. “We have to abide by COVID rules and social distancing.”

Czech Village businesses will offer specials, she said, and 16th Avenue will be blocked off for street vendors and activities for children. The Czech Plus Band will perform at 7 p.m. May 14 in the Kosek Bandstand.

Nate Greiner is photographed before starting work on the morel chainsaw carving in Czech Village. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Live music will be featured twice daily throughout the festival, which will run 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

Winker said organizers also hope the popular morel mushroom contest will make a return. Related: Morel mushroom search tips

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library will host the Iowa Pop Art Market as a complement event for Houby Days, highlighting multiple student projects through Iowa BIG and Metro High School, organized during the past year at the museum.

Among those projects is a mural based on the “Bias Inside Us” museum exhibit and screenings of short films submitted to the Teens Dream video competition.

The Iowa Pop Art Market will also feature the works of 18 Iowa artists, along with vintage clothing and jewelry. All booths indoors and outside of the museum will be spaced for social distancing and masks will be required for everyone.

Czech Village visitors look at the morel mushroom carving behind the Kosek Bandstand on April 24, 2021. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Houby Days vendors will be required to wear face masks and signs will be posted to encourage visitors to wear masks in Czech Village, as well.

“We’re trying to make sure everyone’s safe,” Winker said. “We want to bring it back the best we can, but we want it to be safe for the public, too.”

See images of other chainsaw creations following Iowa’s 2020 derecho and more of the morel carving, below. Photos and article © 2021,

The tree, between the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and the Kosek Bandstand, was damaged in the 2020 derecho windstorm. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Nate Greiner begins work on the morel carving behind the Kosek Bandstand in Czech Village on April 18, 2021. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Chainsaw artist Nate Greiner uses a ladder to reach the top portion of the morel mushroom carving. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Chainsaw artist Nate Greiner, shown with the nearly completed morel carving on April 24, 2021, used a torch to burn in the dark spots on the mushroom. (photo/Cindy Hadish)