CEDAR RAPIDS – A week’s delay in this year’s scheduled date for Houby Days translated into picture-perfect weather for the three-day festival.
Carnival rides, live music, and of course, the festival’s Czech namesake – mushrooms – drew large crowds to Czech Village in Cedar Rapids.
The event kicked off on Friday, May 20, with a Taste of Czech & Slovak at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and ended on Sunday, May 22.
About 100 pounds of morel mushrooms that the Czech Village Association had shipped in from Minnesota quickly sold out, but morels were plentiful in food sold on 16th Avenue and were spotlighted during the annual mushroom contest.
Judge Kimberli Maloy, a certified morel inspector, said one category of the contest was easy: the smallest mushroom, which were actually two; each the size of a pin head; while the best display was most difficult to judge.
The winner in that category, Tom Slade and his daughter, Morgan, have taken the trophy for best display 10 years in a row. Tom was as forthcoming as it gets as to where the numerous morels used in the display were found: “in the woods.”
Maloy didn’t measure candidates for the “biggest” mushroom, but instead chose from between the three longest based on density.
The most unusual award went to a morel growing out of an acorn.
Saturday’s events included the Houby Days Parade, sponsored by the Czech Heritage Foundation, and the crowning of Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa. Linda Babinat was crowned the new queen, with runner-up, Lindsay Hottovy.
More royalty members were crowned on Sunday, with the Czech Prince, Princess, Little Brother, Little Sister and Royal Court attendants named.
View images from Houby Days 2016 here (photos © Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan)