On Sunday, October 3, 2021 the West Baton Rouge Museum will hold its 26th Sugar Fest. The event takes place from 11-4 and will include demonstrations of praline candy making, spinning and weaving, woodworking and blacksmithing. Live music is scheduled from genres including Cajun, Zydeco, Jazz, Folk and Bluegrass and of course, sweet treats will be on site. Like last year’s event, the celebration will be socially distanced and held out of doors to encourage safety.
The Sugar Association’s website claims that the history of sugar cane has roots in Papua New Guinea in 8000 BCE when people first domesticated the plant. Since that time, it has travelled slowly westward across the globe to sweeten and preserve.
Later, around 100 CE, the Sugar Association states both the Greek and then the Roman empires had a record of using sugar cane in medicinal practices having to do with the gut. Within 500 years, the plant and processing techniques spread across the region known as Mesopotamia.
Treva Williams, who is an educator in Family and Consumer Science associated with the Ohio State University, states in her article, “Preserving Food with Less Sugar,” that granulated sugar is used most frequently for a sweetener in canned and frozen goods as of 2016. This top ranking is despite the rise in popularity of sugar substitutes. Like salt, processed sugar acts like a preservative in jams and jellies because the correct amount can prevent microbial growth. The addition also maintains food color, flavor and textures.
The history of sugar in Louisiana is associated most after its cultivation in the Caribbean Region. Hispaniola, now Haiti and the Dominican Republic, recorded its first sugar harvest in 1501, according to The Sugar Association.
The production of sugar, the main ingredient in various sweet dishes associated with joyful celebration is also marked by a violent past. Sugar production is deeply rooted in the history of slavery of this region until the late 1800s. Along with cotton, rice and tobacco it was one of the largest producing southern crops and still is the main crop here in West Baton Rouge along with soybeans.