Do you swoon for wild ‘shrooms? Hold dear the tender asparagus spear? Then heed the call of May’s small-town food festivals, which exalt in their own unique ways two fresh harbingers of spring: morels and asparagus. Here, we’ve broken down the highlights from the National Morel Mushroom Festival and the Empire Asparagus Festival. Our suggestion? Attend both, and decide for yourself who’s the king of the crop. –E.B.

Contender National Morel Mushroom Festival Empire Asparagus Festival
Where Boyne City Empire
When May 15 – 18 May 16 – 18
Mascot A dancing, guitar-playing morel named Woody Pickme The lovely Asparagus Queen, who stalks the festivities
Random Souvenir Chainsaw-carved morel lawn ornament Asparagus apron
Perennial favorite Pinewood derby — all cars must be made from fruits and vegetables The spear-throwing contest for kids
Notable competition The mushroom pole, a buckpole for ‘shrooms The ode to Asparagus poetry contest
Food finds Morel fritters, baked brie with morels Asparagus ice cream asparagus brats, frieds asparagus
Believe it Each year, a temporary tent city known as Shroom Town sprouts up near Boyne City as hundreds of morel hunters gather for the annual harvest. The annual parade, which sometimes consists of little more than “four cars, three kids on bikes and two dogs,” is so hilariously brief that it runs down Main Street twice.

Photo(s) by Gene Turner