FARM 23 - Walton's Lynne Godkin reflects on 1984 Ontario Queen of the Furrow win
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Just under 40 years ago, Lynne Godkin (who was then Lynne Dodds) made history as the second-ever Huron County woman to be crowned Ontario Queen of the Furrow.
She followed in the footsteps of Amy (Stewart) Beccario and would be followed by Melissa (Sparling) Veldman and the current Ontario Queen of the Furrow, Huron County’s own Maranda Klaver. Being so young at the time, Godkin, in an interview with The Citizen, says it was such a whirlwind and it was a lot of commitment at that age, but that she wouldn’t change a thing.
Godkin is also one of the few young women who have ever won the local crown two years in a row. First encouraged to get involved by Marie McGavin, Ruth Townsend and Helen Craig - a formidable trio of women who are likely responsible for recruiting dozens of Queen of the Furrow and Princess contestants over the years - Godkin thought she would give it a try in 1983 when she was just a teenager.
She said that, at that time, she wasn’t overly concerned with the public speaking aspect of the local Queen of the Furrow competition, though she wasn’t exactly in love with it either, but what really concerned her was the plowing portion of it. Despite having a long-time competitive plowing coach and judge for a father in Don Dodds and a future multiple champion for a younger brother in Paul Dodds, those pieces of the puzzle had not yet fallen into place, as Paul was just 14 at the time.
So, she was a little concerned about how she would perform out in the field. She would go on to impress the judges, both on the stage and in the field, and win the crown. At that point, for her first win, she remembers being one in a large group of about 10 or 11 competitors all vying for the crown. She said there were a lot of contestants in those days, which was always intimidating.
She said she loved it and was able to really settle into the role. In fact, she credits getting involved with the Queen of the Furrow competition with helping forge her career path as a teacher. If she never put her name forward, Godkin said, it’s unlikely she would have pursued a career path that had her in front of students talking for most days.
Because she was so enjoying her time as the Queen of the Furrow, she decided to try to win a second chance to wear the crown. Because of the county’s staggered representation system, she was already due to head to the International Plowing Match that following September to represent the county on the provincial stage (the county send its previous winner to the International Plowing Match every year - for example, 2019 Queen Maranda Klaver was set to represent the county the September after her win, September of 2020), but decided to put her name forward once again. She won, which earned her a second shot at International Plowing Match glory.
After failing to win the provincial crown in 1983, Godkin knew she would be heading back the following year with a second chance at becoming the Ontario Queen of the Furrow. As a result, Godkin said she had a level of experience and comfort with the competition that very few of her competitors had.
She said there were about 35 other competitors and it was intimidating, but that she also knew some of them from her time at the University of Guelph (she was still a student there while going through the competition process).
Godkin said she felt that, once she moved onto the final five, it was her answer to the impromptu question that won her the crown. Her question asked about getting into farming at the time, which was a hard time for farmers in the country due to high interest rates and more.
When she was crowned the winner, she said she was surprised and happy, especially since she had won her own car, a Ford Escort, that she was given, for Ontario Plowmen’s Association business, for a year, but that she was then able to keep afterwards (that rule has been changed in subsequent years). For a 20-year-old woman, being handed the keys to a brand new car was a pretty sizeable development.
With the car came the need to drive it, Godkin said. Of course, she was well versed in driving, but over the coming year, she said she would learn a lot about navigation, reading maps and getting around in the days before GPS systems and Google Maps on cell phones (which didn’t exist back then).
She said that juggling appearances and other Queen of the Furrow duties with her studies was difficult at times, but that it was an experience she’ll never forget.
And, for those who are considering getting involved, Godkin said you should jump in with both feet because you never know where it might take you.