This weekend, our hometown of Crete, Nebraska, hosted its inaugural Great Pumpkin Festival. It was a beautiful fall day, only made better by the site of a diverse community coming together to celebrate our town. And believe me, there is a lot to celebrate in Crete!

When passersby were asked to write down what they liked most about Crete at a booth sponsored by Nebraska Appleseed, their answers said it all — I love the diversity; great schools; it’s safe; friendly people; Doane College; great teachers; quiet place to live; family friendly; and it’s a welcoming community. Steve and I have lived here for more than a decade and we couldn’t agree more with these statements.

The festival, which was organized by the Crete Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Committee along with local volunteers, was a great place for a diverse community to come together and celebrate some of the things that make our town unique.

This couple has enjoyed living in Crete for the past 12 years. They said they had a great time watching their grandkids play at the Great Pumpkin Festival.

This couple has enjoyed living in Crete for more than 12 years and said they had a great time watching their grandkids play at the Pumpkin Festival.

Planning for the event began months ago and started with people planting pumpkin seeds and volunteers working throughout the summer, to grow the patch and harvest the pumpkins in a local City Park. According to the Chamber of Commerce, nearly 400 pumpkins given away through donations and vouchers purchased by local businesses.

Local Crete residents, Vicky and Tom Sorensen, enjoyed the festivities with their grandchildren in downtown Crete.

There were also lots of activities for kids at the festival, including hay rack rides, face painting, pumpkin smashing, a duck pond, a free movie at the ISIS theater, and a zip line. There was also live entertainment from town center, including demonstrations and performances from groups like Crete ATA Martial Arts Academy and Dynamic Dance Company.

Pumpkin smashing, sponsored by Doane’s Gamma Phi Iota sorority, was a huge hit (pun intended).

Kids loved playing in the corn.

One of our favorite booths was the one sponsored by Bunge Milling. For a couple tickets, kids were able to get into a stock tank full of corn and search for a tiny pumpkin. The prize for finding the pumpkin was a box of cereal that includes corn ingredients made right here in Crete, Nebraska. Kids were also able to see and feel different types of corn products like corn meal, hominy feed, whole grain corn, and brewer’s grits.

Robin Whitley from Bunge Milling talks about the different corn products, including those used in cereals like Corn Pops and Frosted Flakes.

Robin Whitley from Bunge Milling talked to kids about the different corn products, including those used in popular breakfast cereals like Corn Pops and Frosted Flakes.

A pumpkin growing contest was sponsored by five local businesses, including Crete True Value,  Crete Lumber and Farm Supply, Hometown ShopkoOrscheln Farm and Home, and Crete’s Walmart. Local residents picked up pumpkin seeds at these businesses earlier in the year and grew pumpkins for the event. Prizes were awarded for the most unique/ugliest pumpkin, the largest pumpkin, and the person who donated the most carving pumpkins to the festival. Some of the largest pumpkins were displayed in the middle of the street in downtown Crete and made for a great setting for pictures.

There was also a scarecrow contest and more than 20 scarecrows were constructed by local businesses and organizations and then displayed in downtown Crete.

As always, the Crete Police Department and Crete Volunteer Fire and Rescue were also on hand to show off their vehicles and equipment and talk with kids and families about safety. We are so fortunate to have fantastic police, fire, and rescue units in our town.

From what we experienced, Crete’s first Great Pumpkin Festival was a huge success and a great testament to the kind of community-minded, welcoming people who live and work here. While we’re the first to admit we love leaving town and traveling to new places, we also look forward to coming back to Crete — a perfect place to call home.

  • Last week, we had the pleasure of making handmade pasta (via the internet) with our friends, Deb and Massi, who were in their home kitchen in Italy. ⁣
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You can read all about it, and get the recipe, on our blog. Yep, you guessed it, the link is in our bio. ⁣
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We met Deb and Massi of @italyunfiltered a few years ago when they created an amazing food and wine itinerary for us. We've remained friends and it was so good to see them, even if they were a world away.
  • We were supposed to be in Rochester, Minnesota, this week for Ann to see a cardiac sarcoidosis specialist about some recent issues with her heart. Of course, we did not travel to Rochester for her scans and doctor visits because of the coronavirus outbreak.⁣
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Instead, her cardiologists called her from their homes and her scans and tests will likely be delayed until June or July. We'll keep in close touch with them if anything changes, as well. We are so grateful for all of the healthcare professionals who are continuing to work crazy hours from home as well as in our hospitals around the world.⁣
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This is such an unprecedented and stressful time for all of them. Words will never be enough to convey our gratitude for the roles they are playing in the battle against this deadly virus while caring for those with other diseases and illnesses at the same time. ⁣
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Every healthcare provider we've talked with in the last two weeks has had the same message for those of us who don't have to go to work at a hospital. ⁣
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Just. Stay. Home.
  • Yesterday was Day 16 of social isolation for us. Because of Ann's underlying heart condition and suppressed immune system, we've cooked all our meals at home (no takeout). We've starting to get more and more creative as time has gone by. ⁣
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Last night, we made chicken and shrimp vindaloo and learned online how to make homemade naan.⁣
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It wan't as good as our favorite Indian restaurant, The Oven, but it did satisfy the craving we've had for Indian food. ⁣
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What are you craving these days?
  • We moved our living room furniture around this week and put two swivel chairs near the sliding glass door. Each day, we take time to turn around, rest our minds, enjoy in the view, and just be. #webelieveinhome
  • Our daughter, Meghan, is a cardiac ICU nurse. Despite all of the current uncertainties in healthcare during this pandemic, early this morning she put on her scrubs and went to work a 12+ hour shift. 
She is not alone. Across the country and around the world, healthcare workers are putting the safety of themselves and their families at risk to help others. It's what they do. Every. Single. Day. 
We are incredibly grateful that there are selfless people like this in the world and we pray for them and we hope you'll join us. 
We couldn't sleep this morning, so we wrote instead. Click on the link in our bio to read our morning thoughts and prayers.
  • Trying to decide where we’ll travel this weekend. Covered porch? Living room? 😉
  • We are staying home. 
We've been here for almost a week now because Ann is one of "those people." You know the ones. Those people with an underlying health issue. Those people with a suppressed immune system. One of those people who could become seriously ill, need hospitalization, and even die if exposed to the coronavirus.  Those people need your help to stay safe and live. And all you have to do is stay home when you don’t NEED to be out.

Over the past few days, we’ve seen photos, videos, and witnessed first hand people of all ages (but mostly young people) gathering in groups for what us mid lifers would consider “non essential” reasons: birthday parties, movies, youth sports practices, St. Patty’s Day celebrations at the bar, spring break at the beach, and the like. 
We don’t understand it. 
We try not to judge. 
But just for a time during this worldwide pandemic, could we ask people who are participating in non-essential activities to consider who “those people” most at risk really are?

Those people are already battling serious illnesses.

Those people want to see their grandchildren grow up.

Those people need to do their jobs as nurses and doctors.

Those people are first responders. 
Those people run the grocery store, and the pharmacy, and the gas station. 
Those people pray for you and your generation. 
And what about those other people? 
The ones you know.

Those people who made sacrifices to meet your needs.

Those people who took care of you when you were sick.

Those people who went to your games and cheered you on. 
Those people who taught you in school.

Those people who helped you pay for college.

Those people who cooked your favorite dish for you.

Those people who taught your Sunday School class.

Those people who have forgiven you.

Those people who will always love you unconditionally.

We keep wanting to scream, “It’s not about you, it’s about those people!” But the truth of the matter is, IT IS ABOUT YOU. 
You have the power to help.
You have the power to influence others.
You have the power to flatten the curve.

And by not changing your behaviors, you also have the power to harm. 
How will you choose to use your power?j
  • We’re sharing your postcards and encouraging you to help others and stay positive. 
If you’d like to send us a postcard, mail to: Postcard Jar, PO Box 334, Crete, NE 68333.

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