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As area residents and travelers head downtown to enjoy a caffeinated beverage at Milady Coffeehouse throughout the summer months, not only will the barista ask if they want room for cream, they may also ask to see a passport.

Not the kind needed for a vacation in a foreign country, but the 2018 Nebraska Passport.

The Nebraska Passport program is a Nebraska Tourism Commission initiative that encourages residents and visitors to travel the state collecting stamps to earn prizes, while supporting the state’s tourism destinations.

This year, Milady Coffeehouse is the only local business on the list of 70 total stops throughout the entire state.

“It’s exciting to be selected,” Milady Coffeehouse Owner Glen Ellis said. “We kind of wrapped our self into the Milady Coffeehouse at the May Brothers Building, so we are bringing a bit of coffee and history to the program.”

Along with Milady Coffeehouse, the 2018 Nebraska Passport program includes stops from Alliance to York. A record-setting number of people participated last year, with 465 participants hitting every stop.

“The purpose of the Passport program is to help travelers discover Nebraska’s hidden gems. 2018 Passport travelers will experience a variety of unique destinations while creating lifelong memories,” Program Manager Erin Wirth said.

This year’s Passport includes 11 categories which include Animals, Arts, Back in Time, Coffee, Oregon Trail 175th Anniversary, Outdoors, Pizza, Restaurants, Shopping, Sweet Treats, and Wine & Beer. Travelers will have from May 1 to Sept. 30 to visit the attractions and collect stamps.

Passports will be available at participating stops starting May 1 or can be pre-ordered at NebraskaPassport.com.

“They come in and we stamp their passport,” Ellis said. “We also give a 10 percent discount, which we call our neighbor discount.”

Along with offering a discount, Ellis and Milady Coffeehouse is also using the opportunity to promote other Fremont businesses.

“We are going to encourage them to stick around Fremont,” Ellis said. “We are creating some brochures or pamphlets that have all the other shops they should visit in downtown Fremont. Basically just a map showing here are the places to eat, shop and just let them know that there is plenty to do in Fremont.”

Participants are also encouraged to download the Nebraska Passport App for their smartphone to get digital stamps, supplementing the physical Passport booklet for convenience.

Organizers note that the passport app will be updated with the 2018 information on May 1. Those who used the mobile app last year will need to download the update to see the new program information. To download, search ‘NE Passport’ in the Apple App Store or the Google Play App Store.

The program is completely free to participate in, and offers prizes for getting stamps at a certain number of stops.

2018 prizes will include:

  • 10 stamps – Passport car decal and $15 in Nebraska lottery coupons
  • 25 stamps—Nebraska Tourism calendar
  • 45 stamps—Nebraska poster booklet
  • 70 stamps – “Passport Champion” apparel.
  • All children who participate will be awarded a special Passport surprise.
  • Additionally, there will be drawings for 100+ prizes, including a Butcher’s Share from Omaha Steaks, “One Combo Meal a Week for a Year” from Runza, and a year’s supply of chocolate from Bakers Candies.

For Ellis, Nebraska Passport provides a great opportunity for Milady Coffeehouse to become what he calls a “destination coffeehouse.”

“We are relay trying to set ourselves up as a destination coffeehouse,” he said. “Kind of like The Mill in Lincoln, were trying to follow their footsteps.”

More information on the Passport program can be found at NebraskaPassport.com.

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