Leona Thompson Bowl a part of Field Days tradition

ADDISON COUNTY — There are those in Addison County that live off of tradition and excellence. The Leona Thompson Bowl offers both.
Since 1974 the Leona Thompson Bowl has been presented annually to the best all-around participant in the Home and Garden Department competitions at the Addison County Fair and Field Days. Every summer at the fair, which this year runs this Tuesday through Saturday at the fairgrounds in New Haven, the public is invited to compete in Home and Garden categories that range through various handicrafts and foods, which include knitting, Christmas crafts, doughnuts, canned vegetables and many more .
Points are awarded in each category and class — 10 points for a Grand Rosette, five points for a blue ribbon, etc. In the event of a tie, officials from the Home and Garden Department determine the winner.
The pewter bowl trophy is etched with the names of proud winners of this coveted trophy honoring Leona Thompson, a former Addison County Extension Service Agent. Except during the week of Field Days, the Leona Thompson Bowl is displayed at Middlebury Sew-N-Vac in Middlebury.
Cheryl Morrison, the director of the Field Days Home and Garden Department, said Addison County residents who take part in the competition take it seriously — they have to if they want to win.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “Some things you can finish up the night before, but some you have to put the finishing touches on the morning of the competition. We always have people rushing in at the last minute.”
Morrison explained the type of baked good exhibits that vie for the Leona Thompson Bowl.
“Because of the way the fair is, people bring cookies, cakes, pies,” she said. “Stuff that has to last for a little while.
The Bowl has a long history of competitors that enter yearly, as well as some new ones each year. Contestants can range from four years old to into their nineties.
“We get about 400 competitors each year,” Morrison said. “With around 700 exhibits. Most people submit more than one entry in each category.”
Everybody who helps set up the exhibits and all of the judges are volunteers. The entire exhibit hall is set up the day before with competitors bringing their goods that day. Around 700 exhibits are set up the day before, a major operation that takes the entire day, and the exhibit hall is ready for the around 400 occupants that come and go the day of the competition.
Leona Thompson was a member of the Addison County Extension Homemakers Council in the 1960s and early ’70s, She was a woman who believed in passing down skills.
“She taught a lot of people quilting,” Morrison said. “She organized the Home Demonstration group. People would get together and learn upholstering or quilting, or some of the other craft activities that maybe they hadn’t learned from their mothers or grandmothers.”
Lucien Paquette, who founded Field Days in 1948, knew Leona Thompson and worked with her.
“She was an excellent educational person,” Paquette said. “She was a diligent worker and very conscientious. She worked with women and entire families. She was well-qualified and a hard worker.”
The competition to have one’s name etched on the Bowl started at around the same time that Leona Thompson was retiring from the Extension Homemakers Council. Morrison recalled her modest response to the suggestion that her name should be linked to the Home and Garden Department competition.
“She said, ‘No, don’t name it after me,’” Morrison explained. “But the Home Dem committee decided to name it after her. She was active for quite a long time teaching people a lot of things. She was still teaching people after she retired from the Homemakers Council.”
The Leona Thompson Bowl 40th anniversary presentation ceremony will be held this Thursday at 8 p.m. at the fairgrounds in the Home and Garden Department Building.
Winners of the Leona Thompson Bowl
1974 Diane Cobb
1975 Marilyn Smith
1976 Sandy Foote
1977 Yvonne Gingras
1978 Barbara Wagner
1979 Betty Cyr
1980 Karen Husk
1981 Peggy Lyons
1982 Gussie Levarn
1983 Barb Brown
1984 Marion Sullivan
1985 Julie Jordan
1986 Phyllis Bowdish
1987 Karen LeRoy
1988 Maria Provencher
1989 Donna Evans
1990 Margaret Reed
1991 Marguerite Senecal
1992 Gussie Levarn
1993 Judith Sinnock
1994 Jodi Provoncha
1995 Muffy Kashkin
1996 Jodi Provoncha
1997 Myrna Trombley
1998 Judith Sinnock
1999 Jodi Provoncha
2000 Julia Ranney
2001 Julie Hogan
2002 Phyllis Bowdish
2003 LaNell DeCosta
2004 Carla Berno
2005 LaNell DeCosta
2006 Kathy Sargent
2007 LaNell DeCosta
2008 Kathy Sargent
2009 Jodi Provoncha
2010 Nancy Pecca
2011 Debbie Whitman
2012 Rose Curran

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