Contestants for this year's Laurel King and Laurel Queen event, which was held at Little Red Barn Brewery on Tuesday, June 29.
Contestants for this year's Laurel King and Laurel Queen event, which was held at Little Red Barn Brewery on Tuesday, June 29.

WINSTED —  The 87th crowning of the Laurel King and Queen was held at Little Red Barn Brewery on Tuesday, June 29.

Typically, the crowning of the king and queen goes along with a Laurel Festival and parade.

However, similar to last year, this year’s event was scaled back just to the crowning of the winners of the king and queen competition.

This year there were 10 candidates from The Gilbert School, and one candidate from Northwestern Regional High School.

“It’s such a nice thing to keep this tradition going in town,” Selectman and event co-organizer Melissa Bird said about the event. “We’ve taken a lot of pride even though we have had these challenges and obstacles. This event creates civic pride amongst the citizens and the kids who take part. To me, this town is all about different traditions and history. It’s also about community because an event like this brings people together.”

“Tradition is an important part of the history of Winsted,” Selectman Todd Arcelaschi said. “It’s always important to remember the past, and this event is a big part of Winsted’s past. We have Laurel Kings and Queens who are living all the across the country now who are all part of Winsted’s history.”

Mayor Candy Perez said that traditions, such as the crowning of the Laurel King and Laurel Queen, give residents in a small town “a sense of place and belonging.”

“Traditions are something that you can share with your family and your neighbors in town,” Mayor Perez said. “I think the crowning of the Laurel King and Queen stands out because it’s such a long-standing tradition. This event has been here for so long and it has spanned generations, along with different times of our history. I hope this event endures another 87 years because it graces all the good things about the past, present, and future.”

Over $8,000 in scholarships were awarded at this year’s event.

The winners for this year’s event:

Laurel King runner up: Mason Goodell (bio provided by Laurel Commission) 

“Mason Goodell, a Senior at The Gilbert School, will be attending CCSU to major in
Exercise Science to become an Athletic Trainer. Mason is dedicated to and outside of the classroom, earning Honors for four years and holding positions in clubs such as DECA Vice President, Band Manager, Co-Captain of the Yellowjacket Baseball and Soccer Teams, Class Vice-President, and Peer Leaders. Mason’s hobbies include exercising, cooking/baking, and reading. He volunteers at the Beardsley Library, the annual Highland Lake Cleanup, Operation Christmas Child with The Second Congregational Church and will begin a CharityWater campaign for clean water around the world.”

Laurel Queen runner up: Abby Beecher (bio provided by Laurel Commission) 

“I am a Gilbert student who participates in the yearbook and also I am a peer leader. I have played sports throughout my high school career. I was on varsity all 4 years in Volleyball, Basketball, and Softball. I was captain for Volleyball my senior year, Basketball my junior and senior year, and also in Softball my senior year. I have also received the Scholar-Athlete Award. Outside of school, I love to snowmobile and also have my super comp license for drag racing. I am the youngest female super comp racer that has been licensed in NHRA northeast division 1. I volunteered to referee for Winsted youth basketball and also was an instructor during summer basketball camps. I have also volunteered at Geer Village Nursing home every year since I have been 4. I helped escort and serve Thanksgiving dinner to the residents and their families. I will attend NCCC and will major in Graphic Design.”

Laurel King: Caleb Goodell (bio provided by Laurel Commission)

“What Winsted Means to Me: Caleb. My name is the same as the man who built the first house of Winchester, Caleb Beach, who I am named after and descended from. However, my family’s heritage does not exist in

name only. 100 years ago, in 1921, my great grandfather, Morgan Beach, and his brothers moved to Winsted to establish new lives for themselves and their families. My great grandfather built himself a home and his brothers established local businesses to help support the townspeople. My great uncle Leslie Beach owned and operated a dairy and my great uncle Harold owned and operated a local farm. Their dedication to the community of Winsted lives on in me, which is why I take so much pride in living here. To me, Winsted is not just another city in the Berkshire Hills of Connecticut; it is a small town rich in history, full of tradition, and filled with people and landmarks you will not find anywhere else. Living in Winsted has taught me the value of community and service to others, which is why I have volunteered amongst many organizations and worked for many residents who also call this beautiful city home. The Laurel Festival is one example of the tradition and heritage found here in Winsted. Not only did one of my cousins help start the festival in 1934, but my relatives have participated in various ways over the past years the festival was conducted. I am proud to be the third-generation Laurel Contestant in my immediate family because it is one more way we have been able to embrace the heritage and tradition deeply rooted in Winsted. I not only intend to grow up in the town of Winsted, but after college and my service to this great nation, I plan to own and operate my own business as my family did years ago, bringing our family’s legacy of service to the town Full-circle.”

Laurel Queen: Rebecca Dowling

Rebecca graduated from The Gilbert School this month and was the graduation ceremony’s Valedictorian. She will be attending Marist College in the fall and double majoring in Political Science and Journalism. She hopes to be a White House or Political Correspondent at a major news network.