Latest gathering features Widman's famous treat, along with Minnesota wine and wild rice.

    You can take the person out of Crookston, but you can’t take the Crookston out of the person.

    Last month, 105 former and current residents of Crookston attended the 39th annual Crookston Reunion, held in the clubhouse of Dolce Vita, a 55+ retirement community in Apache Junction, Ariz.          

About 80 attendees live in the Phoenix Valley.  Others are “snowbirds” who have winter homes in Phoenix but still live Crookston during the summer and fall months, and some make the trek from various cities in California. Others come from within Arizona. Six former Crookston natives actually live at Dolce Vita.

    “Every year we bring the Red River Valley spirit to the Valley of the Sun,” said Richard Knutson, who along with his wife, Karen, live at Dolce Vita and have been the driving force in planning the unique reunion since 2007. “It started nearly 40 years ago with a half a dozen couples meeting at Luby’s at a mall,” he added.

    In a way, you could call the reunion attendees “Chippers.” One of the reunion’s featured door prizes is chocolate-covered potato chips, made at Crookston’s century-old Widman’s Candy Store. And let’s not forget native Minnesotan wine and wild rice.

    “We really enjoy hosting the Crookston Reunion every year,” says Lori Tuter, Dolce Vita’s sales and marketing director. “It is one of the most anticipated events we have here at Dolce Vita.”

    “Two things Minnesotans like to do is talk and eat,” Knutson adds. “It’s a wonderful time of fellowship and keeping our connections to Crookston. At day’s end we have a hard time getting people to leave.”

    Knutson says the next reunion is already planned for Feb. 15, 2014 at Dolce Vita. You can bet chocolate-cover potato chips will be in the house.

    Note to readers: Glenn Swain of Phoenix, Ariz. contacted the Times and sent this article to the newspaper. Swain works with “knoodle,” which has been providing advertising, public relations and digital support for Phoenix Valley companies for more than a decade. In addition to Fulton Homes, clients include the Davidson Hotels, the Better Business Bureau,, and the law firm Petersen Johnson. For more information about knoodle, visit