Old Arabi set to pour on its annual Sugar Fest

Today’s Old Arabi Sugar Fest offers a sweet way to get acquainted with the small town on the river just east of the Orleans-St. Bernard Parish line.

Held on the grounds of the LeBeau Plantation house just yards away from the Domino Sugar refinery, the festival offers everything in top-of-the-line events, including food, music, crafts and kids’ activities.

Debbie Smith, the proprietor of Arabi Food Store and Café, says that the food vendors will serve a dream menu of local dishes.

“We’ll be selling muffalettas, but there will be booths with gumbo, etouffée, homemade pralines and crawfish bread, too. One gentleman is doing a variety of sausages and No Bull is doing barbecue,” Smith said.

No festival would be complete without a contest of some kind and the Sugar Fest offers two: A bake-off, with judging slated for 11:30 a.m., and a donut-eating contest at 2:30 p.m., compliments of Councilman Richie Lewis, owner of Gerald’s Donuts.

To accommodate the demand of donut-eating contestants, there will be both a kids’ contest and one for grown-ups.

“Last year was the first year we did the contest,” said Lewis. “We had eight contestants in the kids’ category and 12 in the adults, and everyone had a lot of fun.”

Each contestant gets 15 glazed donut holes — “made with 100 percent Domino Sugar” — to start, and eats them as fast he can. Whoever finishes first is the winner.

“We don’t let the grown-ups use their hands, so it makes for a funny sight,” Lewis said. “The winner takes home a custom trophy made and designed by a local artist.” And, yes, there is a donut on the trophy.

Lewis cautions people to arrive on time if they want to see the contest.

“It’s over in about a minute,” he said.

Special this year are free tours of the Old Arabi and Friscoville historic districts, led by St. Bernard Parish historian Bill Hyland. Motorized trolleys will transport guests as they learn from Hyland all about the town’s “crazy” history.

R. Stephanie Bruno is a contributing writer. Contact her at rstephaniebruno@gmail.com.