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Mushroom festival grows due to canceled festival in Illinois

Over 110 vendors will set up shop in nearly 150 spaces along Richmond Square and College Street this weekend at the 29th annual Richmond Mushroom Festival.
A cancelled Morel Mania festival in Illinois is Richmond’s gain, as new vendors join festival favorites. Looney Shrooms heads to Richmond to sell morel T-shirts, hats, home décor and gear, while another vendor will offer wood-carved morel items.
Also new to the festival is a large NASCAR trailer at the south end of College Street. However for many folks, it’s all about the fabulous festival food – funnel cakes included.
For the sweet lover, three vendors will offer tasty kettle korn, along with Keck’s Root Beer and newcomer Vintage Ice Cream Co., who churns homemade ice cream on site. For the purist, fresh morels will be available for purchase – but be warned – go early Saturday for best selection, as this specialty normally runs out in a few hours. Barbecue will be well represented with local favorites Nadler’s, R&B Snack Shack, John W. Carter Lodge, and Ray County Cattlemen’s Association.
• Speaking of barbecue, this year’s Backyard Bar-B-Q carries a state championship title and a new venue at Richmond Hills Shopping Center, 718 Wollard Blvd., starting at 5 p.m. on Friday. Around 20 will compete in the contest, sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. The winners gain admittance to the American Royal competition in October. Along with the competition, a beer garden returns after a decade-long hiatus as a Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce fundraiser, opening its doors at 7 p.m. Beer and wine coolers will be sold to persons 21 and over. Richmond police will check IDs at the entrance of the beer garden. Teacher’z Pet, the venerable Kansas City rock band, will play from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the barbecue competition. Brothers Paul and Steve Waters of Stet are part of the four-man group that play classic rock as well as original songs. Cost to the event is $5 at the gate.
Richmond’s Craig Carter will provide the stage for the band on his 53-foot Ultimate Tailgate. Carter, who started grilling at Kansas City Chief tailgate parties with an old school bus, may soon come full circle. Carter is in negotiations with the Chiefs to be the official tailgate of the team. His Ultimate Tailgate cooked for 600 people at the Royals home opener this month and the last two Superbowls, feeding around 5,000 people.
Carter and grilling partner Duane Blankenship will also compete in the contest. The team has been awarded a dozen ribbons on their pork, brisket and wings.
“We’ve won a lot of awards with our wings. The recipes consist of sauce and the rub – but it’s all about the grilling technique,” he said. Carter markets his own sauce and rubs, which can be purchased at Hyvee Supermarkets.

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Got mushroom fever?
Seems like most Ray Countians do, as they scour the countryside in search of the mighty morel. If you happen to find a mammoth one, why not submit it in The Daily News Largest Morel Contest? Come by the newspaper office, located at 204 W. North Main from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday or 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday with your potential prize winner. First place earns $100 and second place wins $50. The winner will be announced at the grandstand before the parade at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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The Evans Midland Empire Carnival kicks off festivities Thursday with wristband night, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Franklin Street. The cost is $18. This year’s Mushroom Festival, presented by the Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce, boasts over 25 events over a three-day period – a weekend that offers something for everyone. See schedule for additional events.

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