Once again, the SugarFest, an annual festival at the West Baton Rouge Museum, delighted young and old with a festival that continues to get bigger and better, according to many of the festival-goers.
With the opening of the their newest permanent exhibit, the Arbroth Store, the museum touted a more spacious festival than ever before, spanning across their campus’ entirety.
“We have grown physically so now we’re covering the entire campus, we’re going all the way from the Arbroth Store to Lousiana Ave. and we are fully between N. Jefferson and 6th – so our space is physically so much bigger, which I think has worked out really well,” said Julie Rose, Executive Director of the West Baton Rouge Museum.
In its 17th year, the SugarFest, which is a celebration of the history of West Baton Rouge Parish’s largest agricultural export, sugar cane, took place Sunday, October 7.
Rose said, though, that the festival has not only grown in physical size, but has grown in popularity and the variety of what the festival offers has expanded greatly.
She said that this year’s fest saw more local food vendors with more of a variety of foods, as well as more crafts demonstrators.
“All that has just made [the festival] feel richer and bigger,” she said. “People seem really happy.”
Alison Matthews of Baton Rouge said that she “thoroughly enjoyed” not only the festival, but the museum in its entirety.
Matthews said she was delighted surprised to find artifacts in the museum that belonged to her great aunt in Grandmother Marguerite's Trunk. She said “Grandmother Marguerite” was her great aunt.
“I have a lot of things from [my great aunt and uncle], and to find out that was here, that was pretty cool,” she said.
Brenda Chapman of Baton Rouge, who said that this year was she and her family’s first time at the SugarFest, said she thought the festival was wonderful.
“It’s neat to know how to get back to the simpler times. I think things are way too complicated now,” she said.
She said she spent the whole day on the museum’s grounds and brought her neighbors, adding that she expects to come back next year.
“From 60 all the way down to 11, it spans all the age brackets – everyone enjoys it,” Chapman said. “You don’t have to be old to appreciate it, even the young kids are enjoying it.”
Rose said that many people have enjoyed the festival so much they continue to come throughout the years.
“It’s become a family tradition for a lot of people. It’s really heart-warming that people put this as something they like to do with their family regularly,” she said.
Andrea Smicker of Port Allen said that she has been attending the festival with her family for about five years.
“We usually come and spend the whole day here, and it’s really fun,” she said.
Smicker said that she began coming because one of her daughters was singing in the WBR All-Parish Choir, which has been a staple performance in the festival for years. She said that her daughter is still in the choir, but the family has looked forward to coming to the festival each year.
“It’s really about history. My father was a sugar cane farmer, and we were raised on the side of sugar cane. So, my whole life I’ve been around it including now – it’s right across from my backyard,” she said. “I think it’s incredible that the children get to understand that part of history.”
Rose said that the museum expansions and tweaks, and the traditions of families throughout the Greater Baton Rouge area made the 17th annual SugarFest bigger and better than ever, and she and the museum staff are already preparing for next year.
We’ll keep coming back for the food and the fun, because it’s really enjoyable.