Where the grass is greener

For retired Vermont agricultural extension agent Lucien Paquette, life has been long and sweet like the grass. The 92-year-old Middlebury resident - the father of 12 successful children - grew up as the son of Roman Catholic French-Canadian immigrant dairy farmers in Craftsbury. Today, Paquette is best known for the creation of Addison County Fair & Field Days in 1948; he was also the driving force in forging Addison County's agricultural leadership position during Vermont's post-World War II era. So when Lucien Paquette talks about agriculture, everybody listens.

Paquette, who turns 93 this summer, doesn't rest on his green laurels. He remains Field Days' most respected, elder spokesman; he also heads-up the county fair's one-of-a kind annual Hand-Mowing competition.

In addition to his leadership within the agricultural community, Paquette has also demonstrated boundless service to the community as a 67-year-long member of the Knights of Columbus in Addison County. He is also a founding member of Addison County Right to Life. As a faithful Christian, he has inspired many fellow church-goers to rediscover their Catholic faith.

Paquette's most beloved Field Days event, the hand-mowing competition, started in 1978; today it involves dozens of participants of all ages, scythes in hand, swinging at well-tended 15'- and 25'-long grass strips. The activity may be the last vestige of 19th-century technology in a 21st-century world, but Field Days' attendees seem to love it for its simple physicality and celebration of the farming life.

Fueled by an early interest in agricultural science and technology, Paquette decided to pursue the study of agricultural at the University of Vermont during the late 1930s. At UVM, the studious Paquette was awarded a B.S. degree in agriculture, magna cum laude, in 1940; he later added a master's degree in extension service education in 1965.

Following graduation, Paquette began working in UVM's Extension Service program. During the 1950s, he was appointed superintendent of the historic Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge. And during that time, Paquette's halcyon days in local agriculture, he and his late wife Loretta brought up 12 children-eight of the 12, like their pop, are UVM graduates.

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