The Sweet Side of Louisiana: Iberia Parish

Visitors to Iberia Parish in September will not only get to experience the beauty of the Teche Valley, but also the celebration of the sugarcane crop, one of Louisiana's most important agricultural commodities.


The 75th Sugarcane Festival will be held September 21-25 and centered on historic W. Main Street--the most beautiful street in America--and Bouligny Plaza.  The midway and carnival rides open the 21st at the corner of Sucrose Drive--great name!--and Center Street.


The entire festival is an old-fashioned country fair, complete with a 4-H livestock show and cooking contests.  The big parade honoring King Sucrose LXXV and Queen Sugar LXXV is also a farming affair, as the parade floats are pulled by sugar cane tractors that were cutting cane the day before.


At the Shadows on the Teche, New Iberia's downtown plantation home, the tours will feature the yearly cycle of Louisiana's sugarcane crop.  Continuing in the agricultural vein, visitors should tour Konriko Conrad Rice Mill, America's oldest rice mill.  Farm tours can also be arranged by calling Gonsoulin Land and Cattle Company at (337) 577-9160.


Literature lovers will also recognize New Iberia as the home of author James Lee Burke's hard luck detective Dave Robichaux.  They'll also know that Victor's Cafeteria on Main Street is Detective Robichaux's choice for a stomach-busting hamburger steak, and Clementine's is the old Provost's Bar--the honky tonk where Burke's literary characters hang out.  You can even find autographed copies of Burke's work at Books Along the Teche, the best little bookstore in America.


Plan a day trip down to Avery Island to visit the 170-acre Jungle Gardens and the Tabasco Country Store.  The Tabasco experience will take you on a spicy jaunt through the Tabasco Museum. the greenhouse, the pepper barrel warehouse, and the factory where the famous hot sauce is bottled.


New Iberia is known as Louisiana's Queen City.  After you experience the enchantment of the Bayou Teche, you'll understand why.


Sam Irwin is a freelance journalist who lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, Betty.

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23 Aug 2016

By Sam Irwin