Crete Country Christmas a Treat for Man and Beast

Oliver Flores of Crete gets the shakedown from the Grinch at Crete Country Christmas. (Photo by Karen Haave)
Oliver Flores of Crete gets the shakedown from the Grinch at Crete Country Christmas. (Photo by Karen Haave)

By Karen Haave

Crete Country Christmas was a little different this year, but the changes only made the 36-year-old event better than ever.

Some favorite activities were back, like the popular Reindog Contest. But new this time was a large tent for food vendors, a saloon and live entertainment.
Also added was a Cocoa & Cookie Crawl on Friday night–with a commemorative 2023 Crete Country Christmas mug. There were also more seatings for the Breakfast With the Grinch and Bingo.
Jamie Healy, Crete Chamber of Commerce vice president and administrative assistant for the park district, said it’s hard to estimate the number of people who come out each year.
“It’s so hard to gauge as everyone is so spread out across town throughout the weekend,” she explained.
“I will say that we had a packed house in the tent all weekend long.
“I did hear a lot of feedback from people that they saw the ABC7 news segment and decided to come to Crete, and it was their first time out to our community and they absolutely loved it. We always get a lot of nice compliments each year, but it seems like we got a lot more this year. So many people complimented the event and Crete, as a whole.”
For her, the best part is the holiday spirit everyone seems to experience.
“Personally, it’s hard to choose a favorite (activity). The overall atmosphere of holiday spirit is my favorite part. Everyone is excited and merry! Another favorite part is the Crete Santa Sleigh Parade on Monday and Tuesday night after the weekend. Santa drives around town on his sleigh with CPD and CFD greeting families and collecting donations for the Crete Food Pantry and toys for Angels on Assignment.
“A highlight for me is always the Parade of Lights to see all of the floats and hard work that everyone put into them. Also, the community events are a great way to see our businesses in town. They offer so many free activities for the kids. The Kris Kringle Market is also a wonderful craft fair that is a great place to start your holiday shopping.”
An annual event that has been held the first weekend of December since 1987, Country Christmas is a Crete Area Chamber of Commerce event, supported by all of the taxing bodies (Village, Township, Park District, Library), as well as some business owners, organizations (Crete Police, Crete Fire, Lions Club, EMA) and a few residents.
“We meet nearly year round, monthly. The last month leading up to it, we meet weekly,” Healy noted. “It’s a wonderful family-friendly event that lasts the entire weekend,” she said.
“It’s a great way to kick off the holiday! We have delicious food vendors, LIVE entertainment in the tent, hayrides, Santa, and so much more. “We had a wonderful year, and everything went smoothly!
“I also want to add how proud I am of our committee and our community for another successful Crete Country Christmas. We have such an incredible group of committed and generous volunteers who work so hard to pull this off. “

The Crete Country Christmas also featured a Live Nativity. (Photo by Karen Haave)

As always, the Reindog Contest drew proud humans and their costumed pooches to the tent for a chance to win some great prizes, along with some bragging rights.

Michael Liccar, Crete Township Supervisor and master of ceremonies for the contest, said that 19 dogs were entered this year.
First Place, Santa’s ‘Best in Show” Reindog went to Hannah, a multi-poo and her humans, Kathy Reynolds and Joseph Krawczski.
“Rudolph’s Redneck Reindog” took 2nd Place for Scarlett and her handler, Jayden Myers.
“Cupid’s Cutest Couple” Eeyore & Chunk, were third with their human, Jennifer Walker, while Casper (“Prancer’s Precious Pooch”) placed fourth for Nicole and Robert of Steger.
In fifth place was Brutus, “Dasher’s Delightful Doggie,” and his handler Jessica DuBois.
“The judges considered overall presentation of the families and their Reindog(s), personality of the Reindog and interaction with other contestants, and physical characteristics of the particular Reindog,” Liccar noted.
“This was the 13th Annual Crete Country Christmas Reindog. It is looked forward to and enjoyed by not only the contestants, but the many onlookers who enjoy seeing the Reindogs and their owners in their outfits and getting into the Christmas Spirit.

“Pets are important members of the family. The Reindog Contest is an event where families with their pets can participate together. It’s a celebration of families and their pets during the Christmas season

and gives onlookers an insight into those special relationships and to join in the celebration together.”
Judges this year were Bob Kasper, Patty Noonan and Mark Noonan.
“Bob Kasper is parent to multiple dogs, Patty and Mark have cats, and Patty is a former beauty pageant judge,” Liccar added.

Sponsors of the Reindog contest are County Line Pet Hospital, VCA Forest South Animal Hospital, Most Feed & Garden Store, The Edge Coffee House & Roasting Company and Evil Horse Brewing Company.

Karen Haave is a freelance reporter.

First Place, Santa’s “Best in Show” Reindog went to Hannah, a multi-poo and her humans, Kathy Reynolds and Joseph Krawczski. (Photo by Karen Haave)

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