Even with more than 15,000 people calling Republic home, it’s easy to see why residents say their favorite part of living in this quiet hollow is the close-knit community. Pull off Highway 60, and open garages reveal plastic pink flamingoes, and tree swings blow in the breeze. A road-side stand sells the last of this year’s pumpkins.
There’s not a buzzing square or scenic lakefront to attract outsiders to this small town, and for every new store that opens, locals can list one that’s closed recently. But the stores, cafes and shops that remain have secured a place in the hearts of Republic natives, and you can be sure that you’ll run into at least one person you know during lunch at Village Pottery Café where a cup of homemade soup goes great with some arts and crafts.
And while much of Republic’s activity takes place along Highway 60, which runs down the middle of town, annual festivals and parades draws locals to the historic downtown drag and into the town’s parks. From annual Easter egg hunts, a triathlon and a winter-time 5K to a steam engine parade each September and the much-talked-about Pumpkin Daze, Republic’s social calendar is packed with plenty of small-town charm that’s worth the drive from your home town.
Quotes from Republic natives
Out of all the annual festivals, which is your favorite?
“The Christmas Parade. The band plays, and floats drive down Main Street, and they throw candy.” —Pat Bloomingdale, retired
What’s your favorite thing to do on Friday night?
“Football is big here on Friday nights.” —Chelsea Matteson, manager of Village Pottery Café
What’s your favorite thing about Republic?
“This is such a strange town. Even though we have a population of more than 10,000, it feels more like 1,000. Everywhere you go, you run into people you know.” —Chelsea Matteson, manager of Village Pottery Café
What is your favorite time of year to be in Republic?
“Probably fall. Pumpkin Days is a big fall festival that goes on each year. There are live performances, pumpkin weigh-ins and other fun activities.” —Chelsea Matteson, manager of Village Pottery Café
What brought you to Republic?
“We moved here from the Seattle area 17 years ago. We had family in Springfield, and every time they visited, they talked up this area, so we made the move here.” —Pat Bloomingdale, retired
What would you recommend someone new to town do?
“Check out The Amp @ J.R. Martin. It’s a new outdoor amphitheater type setup, and they show movies each month and have food and activities for kids.” —Sonya Baker, banker
What is the best kept secret about Republic?
“Village Pottery Café. There’s no studio fee, and it’s a great activity for the whole family or perfect just for lunch.”—Sonya Baker, banker
Why did you decide to set up shop on Republic?
“My mom opened this shop five years ago. Republic is like one big family. We see our customers out and about all the time, and that’s how it should be.”—Amber Bays, owner of The Closet of Republic
What restaurants do you recommend?
“E’s Inn has a really good pork tenderloin sandwich. That place has been in town for forever.” —Kenny Pinnon, owner of Bow Wow Pet Resort
What would you suggest someone new to town do?
“The history museum on the square is worth checking out. It has a lot of photos that show Republic when it was first starting out.” —Leah Pinnon, owner of Bow Wow Pet Resort
What do you do for fun on a Friday night?
“High school football games are big around here. The stands are overflowing with fans.” —Josie Butler, student
What’s your favorite restaurant?
“Stella’s Market & Café. My mom is the owner, and the truffle pizza is great. It has mascarpone cheese, Parma prosciutto, arugula and truffle oil on top.” —Josie Butler, student