5 Ways to Celebrate Sugar Cane Day

5 Ways to Celebrate Sugar Cane Day

Sugar, spice and everything nice. Grand plantations and sprawling countryside. These are the diverse images evoked by a commodity that means $2.7 billion to the Louisiana economy.

Driving from one end of St. Mary Parish to the other, visitors can’t help but notice field after field of sugarcane, a grass-like stalk that can grow up to 12-feet-tall. That’s because we’re is the second largest sugar producing parish in Louisiana.

The Cajun Coast is celebrating the sweet treat that arrived in Louisiana with the Jesuit priests in 1751. They planted it near where their church now stands on Baronne Street in New Orleans.

On the Cajun Coast, the area’s sugar cane planters were among the South’s wealthiest agriculturists, as reflected by the grand homes built in Franklin and the surrounding countryside.

Most of these magnificent structures still are standing and are well preserved. Franklin’s Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and encompasses over 420 noteworthy structures.

Two sugar refineries – Sterling Sugars and St. Mary Sugar Co-Op – call this parish home. You may even have eaten some of the sugar they’ve produced. Several candy companies have purchased from St. Mary sugar refineries.

5 Ways to Explore the Cajun Coast Sugar Bowl

1- See more of St. Mary! Drive La. 182 through the parish. You’ll see sugarcane growing or being harvested and you’ll be traveling on the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway. Bayou Teche Scenic BywayThis 125-mile route winds through three parishes: St. Mary, Iberia, and St. Martin. The byway is home to two distinct cultures-the French Cajun culture of the upper Teche area and the Anglo-Saxon culture of the lower Teche. 

2- Buy sugar straight from the source during grinding season (typically October to December) at Sterling Sugar, 611 Irish Bend Road, Franklin, LA 70538. Phone: 337.828.0620

3- Oaklawn Manor, an 1837 Greek Revival manor is the residence of former Louisiana Gov. Murphy J. “Mike” Foster. The home currently is furnished with European antiques, bird carvings and an extensive Audubon collection, but its history with the sugar industry is extensive.

4- Take a walking or driving tour of Historic Downtown Franklin (and visit Franklin Main Street shops housed in historic buildings while you’re in the area) to view historic homes. Request a brochure.

5- The Franklin office of the Cajun Coast Visitors & Convention Bureau, 15307 Hwy 90 West Frontage Road in Franklin, contains a display explaining the different stages of sugar production from the cane stalk to refined white sugar.