Small Town Charm & A Bounty Of
Edible Delights Await In Michigan

I never gave much thought about the mushrooms I sautéed in butter or stuffed with herbs and meat. So, I’m excited to learn more about these edible delights as we draw closer to arriving at the Annual Fall Mushroom Mania Weekend Outing at Springbrook Hills Resort at Walloon Lake in Michigan.




Above: Boyne City sits along the
southern tip of Lake Charlevoix.

Below: Sail away in Michigan.



This is a first trip to Michigan and a first f or mushroom hunting. The drive to Northern Michigan is beautiful as a blanket of fall colors begins to spread across the landscape.

We arrive at our destination — Boyne City in Charlevoix County — just in time for the Annual Fall Harvest Festival. Adding a charming touch to the small town is the cheerful Scarecrows hanging out in front of unique merchant shops along Main Street. Ahead, we approach the marina set on the southern tip of Lake Charlevoix that leads sailors out to Lake Michigan and ports beyond. With the average daytime temperature at 57 degrees in October, and dipping down to around 38 degrees in the evening, we quickly slip on our coats to ward off the brisk and chilly winds blowing in off the Lake

While we tour Boyne City we realize it is not just another tourist town. It is home to those who live and work within the small town, who are preserving their historic piece of paradise. Merchants take care and pride in their buildings and presentation of wares. No funky souvenirs here. We find quality crafts and arts worthy of fine art galleries. This may be one reason Boyne City has been chosen as one of the first four Michigan Main Street communities in the state by National Trust for Historic Preservation. This honor provides Boyne City with the resources needed to further preserve and enhance its unique and enchanting community.



The historic Wolverine Dilworth
Inn in Boyne City.

We find another touch of nostalgia when we arrive at the historic Wolverine Dilworth Inn located at 300 Water Street in Boyne City . I can imagine a lumber baron in the early 1900s escorting his out-of-town guests across the veranda that wraps about the quaint three-story brick inn for a night of entertainment. Inside, we are welcomed warmly by our hostess, Susan Christensen, who shows us to our suite that has the charm of a bed & breakfast with the added bonus of a kitchenette. It is the smell of home cooked meals that lures us back to the restaurant downstairs for an early bite to eat. We’ve made it in time to hear the soulful tunes of J. D. Lamb while savoring an affordable evening meal of delicious chicken fajitas and huge side of cheese sticks. It’s the little touches that make the difference, like the extra comforter we find waiting in our suite, warming us on this cool fall night.


Let's Hunt For Mushrooms



Above: Our host has a collection of edible mushrooms to view.

Below: We are determined
to find mushrooms.





Above: Keep your eyes open,
mushrooms are easy to miss.

Below: We did find a few.



Below: Hey, are these edible?


The evening of excitement is just beginning. A short drive seven miles away to Walloon Lake at the Springbrook Hills Resort and we are in the midst of the Fall Mushroom Mania welcome party. We find more great food, facts, lore, and trivia about mushrooms, along with the company of new friends who are staying in the vacation homes located at the Springbrook Resort. We learn that reservations fill up quick. No worry, the host of the Fall Mushroom Mania, Joe Breidenstein, was kind enough to arrange lodging at the Wolverine Dilworth Inn in Boyne City .

Life is full of surprises. On the table when we enter the lodge is a number of samples of edible mushrooms of all shapes and sizes. Something I didn’t know until my husband and I are watching an informative video along with the group of eager mushroom hunters is how many edible mushrooms there are to find. The brochure describes the event as a perfect choice for singles, couples, families, and groups who love nature, the outdoors, and good cooking. The price is certainly reasonable for the Fall Mushroom Mania that is set for several Fall Weekends. For $179.00 per person we receive lodging for Friday & Saturday and all our meals. The complete package also includes our guided Mushroom Hunts and cooking demonstrations.

Dressed for the brisk Michigan weather in the morning, we are ready to head out on our mushroom hunt after breakfast and another informative video. We feel the excitement build as we join the caravan on the way to the woods in search of these edible delights. The next thing I know, here I am, along with everyone else, gingerly stepping through the woods, looking down at the ground among the fallen leaves for a sign. Just one colored cap would satisfy me at this point;. My inexperience makes me impatient — we’ve only been in the woods for five minutes — while my curiosity keeps me motivated.

Our expert mushroom guide is Larry, who points out areas to look after suggesting everyone stay in a group so as not to get turned around in the woods. Patience pays off, but not as I expected. I’ve found signs of where deer have bedded and some wild animal’s leftovers, no mushroom yet. But wait . . .

My hopes rise when my husband, Leroy, pulls me back. I look down to find I almost stepped on a mushroom. Several other mushroom hunters hurry over to get a glimpse of our catch. We wonder if it’s a Paxillus atrotomentosus or Tricholoma vaccinum that’s edible, but not a popular choice. Larry suggests slipping the mushrooms into our basket so we can take them back to the lodge where he’ll identify them as safe to eat.

We found one, then another, and now a dozen more between us. The mushrooms seem to be popping up everywhere. My brother-in-law, Walt, shares his harvest of Morel mushrooms with us each spring. He has forty years worth of experience, paying close attention to the wooded settings in Indiana to hunt Morels and Morchella conica. We can’t wait to return to the Springbrook Hills Resort at Walloon Lake in the spring for the Morels & More Weekend Outings. We hear it’s a thrill to find them because the grayish Morel color makes it easy to miss them among the brush and ground cover. They can range in size from two inches to almost a foot, and larger morels can weigh over a pound.




Part of the day's catch.


After collecting our fill for the morning we return to the lodge for lunch before heading out again. When the evening arrives our group returns for dinner and wine tasting with baskets full of mushrooms. My patience has paid off. The pleasure of good company and the delicious meal prepared with many of the mushrooms we identified as edible is our reward. I’ve had so much fun; it’s hard to believe the weekend is coming to an end.

We look forward to returning to Charlevoix County for the Annual Morels & More Outing scheduled for the last two weekends in April, and first three weekends in May. In the summer we’ll be back to cruise on the lake and play a round of golf at the world-class golf resorts in the area. No matter what time of year it is there’s plenty to do in Boyne County . Maybe we’ll run into to each other at the family owned and operated Wolverine Dilworth Inn or the slopes of Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands this winter. After all, Boyne City is a small town, where strangers become friends.




Festive scarecrows decorated by
Boyne City merchants,

To experience the natural beauty of Charlevoix County visit the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce at 28 S. Lake Street, Boyne City, Michigan. Call 231/582-6222 or visit Boyne City’s web site at http://www.boynecity.com

To find out more about the Main Street Program and other programs available through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, contact Amy Webb at 303/623-1504 or at amy_webb@nthp.org. Visit The National Trust for Historic Preservation web site for further details at www.nthp.org or www.nationaltrust.org

For information on accommodations at the Wolverine Dilworth Inn located at 300 Water Street in Boyne City, Michigan call 800/748-0160.

Experience the hunt for mushrooms in Charlevoix County in Northern Michigan. The Morels & More hunt is set for the last two weekends in April and the first three weekends in May and return in the autumn for the Fall Mushroom Mania hunt also scheduled on several weekends. For information on these outings that feature casual, informal outings, filled with fun among old and new friends, plus great food call Joe Breidenstein at 231/535-2227. Additional nights lodging available at the Springbrook Hills Resort, P.O. Box 219, Walloon Lake, MI 49796.

Feature and photos by Melody Schubert, Midwest Correspondent.


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