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Biggest SugarFest yet despite weather worries

Written by Aaron Williams on . Posted in Local

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Even with the looming threat of Tropical Storm Karen, which conjured in the Gulf of Mexico just days before, the West Baton Rouge Museum’s 18th annual SugarFest held their biggest fest to date.

“This one is much bigger. We cover all the grounds and we also spill over into the community center area,” said Julie Rose, museum’s executive director, saying that the festival drew about 2,000 people, nearly 500 more than last year’s record crowd.

“It was a Saints game, and we had threat of a Tropical Storm Karen – so there were two things that made me think this may not roll, but I’m happily surprised. People came throughout the day.”

Rose said that one of the barometers of the approximate number of attendees at the fest is the number of lunches sold during the West Baton Rouge Historical Association’s annual fundraiser, which was sold out before the day was over.

“It’s really nice to know that’s so popular and people like to pick those up,” Rose said.

She said that there were about 20 percent more vendors during the event, which included musicians, artisans, food vendors and more.

Jeannie Luckett, museum’s education curator, said that this year’s SugarFest was the largest to date, and truly accomplished what the festival was created to accomplish.

“It is what’s certainly the celebration of the sugar cane harvest, but it’s more than that. It’s really a celebration of our culture and our heritage,” Luckett said. “There’s probably over 60 things to experience at SugarFest. That’s pretty amazing, we’ve definitely come a long way.”

Luckett said that festival-goers were able to get interactive, informative demonstrations and learn about the history along the way.

“Education is at the heart of everything we do,” she said. “So we’re celebrating our culture and history.”

Rose said that the museum had several partners for this year’s SugarFest, including LSU Museum of Art, the Women’s Council of Greater Baton Rouge, the LSU AgCenter, Harry L. Laws Co., and others.

“I’m really, really proud of the staff. They’ve got this particular festival so figured out that they can roll out this project that has so many moving parts and it works like a charm,” Rose said. “It just unfolds. They pay attention to all the details. I’m just really, really luck to have this incredible team. This year in particular, when we’re this much bigger and we have so many new things that we’re trying – it just rolled. And with a rain plan!”

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