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.

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