The Clewiston News

America’s Sweetest Town to host 30th Clewiston Sugar Festival; family-friendly event is free and bigger than ever

America’s sweetest town will host the annual Clewiston Sugar Festival on March 19. The festival is a free event featuring celebrity dessert chef Johnny Iuzzini, musical guests country music giants Gary Allan, Chase Bryant and Eric Paslay, local bands YourDesign and Sierra Band, and plenty of family-friendly activities.

The festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at Civic Park, on U.S. Hwy 27 in Clewiston. Admission is free.

Now in its 30th year, the Clewiston Sugar Festival celebrates the region’s annual sugarcane harvest, highlighting sugar’s important economic impact on Glades-area communities and Florida’s agricultural industry. This year’s presenting sponsor is U.S. Sugar, a Florida pioneer in the sustainable farming and processing of sugarcane, citrus and sweet corn.

“We are honored and excited to be a part of this great community tradition,’’ said Judy Sanchez, senior director of corporate communications and public affairs for U.S. Sugar. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the hard work and achievements of our farmers and community and express our gratitude for our employees, growers and vendors for another sugarcane harvest season.”
The event will include the Sweet Taste of Clewiston contest for best desserts with celebrity pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini, judge of the reality TV show “Top Chef: Just Desserts” and author of “Sugar Rush.” Performing on the main stage will be country music stars Gary Allan, Chase Bryant and Eric Paslay, along with the South Florida classic rock group Sierra Band and Clewiston’s own YourDesign.

The festival will feature appearances by Miss Sugar 2016 Vivian Haney, Junior Miss Sugar Jennah Hernandez and Little Miss Sugar Jade Potter. Other activities include a vintage tractor display, a kids park with games and inflatable jump houses, a Big Lake Cruisers Rod Run, wildlife show, gator wrestling, Lake O tours, and arts and crafts booths. Also on the schedule are a Sugar Fest 5K run by Cross Training Ministries and tennis, a three-on-three basketball tournament and championship games, and horseshoe/cornhole tournaments presented by Howell Oil. Last but not least, food vendors will be offering everything from traditional carnival foods, delicious festival foods, Seminole Indian foods, and other specialty items from around the area.

“This festival has something for everyone and puts a spotlight on what makes our community special and unique, and that’s sugarcane,’’ said Hillary Hyslope, executive director of the Clewiston Chamber of Commerce, which is helping to organize the festival.

Ms. Hyslope is proud of the work that has been put into making this year’s Clewiston Sugar Festival the biggest ever. Along with presenting sponsor U.S. Sugar, the festival is being supported by the Howard E. Hill Foundation, and the City of Clewiston, which Ms. Hyslope said has been exceptional in helping with the festival. The Clewiston Sugar Festival Committee was led by Ashly Sergent, Chair; Pam Kelley and Al Perry, Co-Chairs; and included the support of committee members Elaine Wood, Belinda Smith, Naomi Gilde, Hillary Hyslope, Wendy Castillo, Barbara Edmonds, Police Chief Don Gutshall, Matt Kindermann, Lance Ramer, Jodi Rush, Liz Shaw, Electa Waddell, Sheriff Steve Whidden, Tabitha Yebba, and Debbie Walker.

The work of the this talented and dedicated group made this year’s festival possible, and easy for Ms. Hyslope to recommend.

“We encourage everyone to come and see why Clewiston is the sweetest town in America,” said the Chamber Director.

Special note to visitors: Parking – the Clewiston Sugar Festival has partnered with the Hendry County School District to offer parking at Clewiston Middle School, with a shuttle to drop off festival-goers at the main festival grounds. Big O tours will also be loaded at the middle school, with a tour bus able to take up to 24 people at a time to the lake.