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.

  • Just over two years ago, we stopped in Pawhuska to have lunch at Ree Drummond's @PWMercantile. From the person opening the door for us to the folks tending the line giving us water, we felt welcome from the moment we set foot in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.⁣
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But it turns out it wasn't just @thepioneerwoman and her husband, Ladd, who went above and beyond to welcome visitors. No, it turns out what they did was just par for the course in this town that's home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we've met in all our travels. ⁣
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So we bought a house there. We got it in part, so we could be a part of the community we've come to love. But we also got it so we could help welcome folks to town and let them know how glad we are they came to visit. Come and see Pawhuska. And when you do, stay awhile.
  • Fried dill pickles are a little different in North Dakota than they are in most other places we've been. Instead of just dipping some dill chips in batter, dropping them in the fryer, and then serving them in a basket with ranch, the folks there take their time and make a dish to remember.⁣
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They start with a dill pickle spear, wrap that in Havarti cheese, then put a wonton wrapper around it all. Then, they fry it, and slice it open just so before serving them alongside a spicy aioli dipping sauce. We had these at a complimentary meal at Outlaws Bar and Grill in @visitwilliston, North Dakota.⁣
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Let's be honest, these pickles are just one of many reasons we look forward to our return to @northdakotalegendary next year.
  • Have you ever had the chance to watch a cruise ship come into or leave port? These massive ships, often 1,000 feet or more long, can maneuver themselves by the dock so gently that you don't even realize you've stopped (or started) moving.⁣
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In Bermuda, we had the chance to watch the Norwegian Escape depart. We watched as she pushed away from the dock, then spun 180 degrees on a point before heading out to sea.⁣
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We've seen ships do this dozens of times. In fact, we've been on ships and have been part of this type of maneuvering dozens of times. And yet, given the sheer size of the vessels, it never ceases to impress.
  • You know you want to. Do it. Just book the ticket and go. At the end of your life, you likely won't remember most of the stuff you bought in 2019, but you will always remember the journey you took and the experiences you had. So enrich your life and go. We've never regretted spending money for a trip.
  • This just might be the sweetest, best pecan roll we've ever had. At the @PWMercantile, they bake these delicious treats daily. Covered in a luscious caramel and finely chopped pecans, these rolls are the stuff dreams are made of. Have you had one?
  • Smack in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we found the International Rose Test Garden. Set on 4.5 acres of land, the garden offers visitors a chance to see 10,000 rose bushes from about 650 different varieties. ⁣
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We spent more than an hour walking the carefully tended paths, snapping photos, and just enjoying the beautiful flowers. Our visit here made us glad that we literally scheduled time on this trip to stop and smell the roses.
  • Set in a renovated middle school in Grinnell, Iowa, Hotel Grinnell is one of our favorite boutique hotels. The owner thoughtfully designed the space and included touches from school including “Hall Pass” key card sleeves, and a bar cleverly named, “The Periodic Table.” We wrote a story on this hotel, you can read all about it on our blog. Link in bio. @hotelgrinnell #hosted @traveliowa
  • Everyone has a happy place, a spot where the world melts away and a sense of relaxation and calm settles in. For Steve, this place is on board a cruise ship, out on open water. He can spend hours sitting and watching the water, the ship's wake, and looking out for other ships. He loves soaking up the sun and fresh ocean air while cruising along on the sea. ⁣
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What's your happy place? ⁣
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