Traditions and tractors on display Saturday

Olde Time Days coming to Baldwin County Bicentennial Park

By Allison Marlow
Posted 11/12/21

Darrell Sudduth’s grandfather used a mule to help squeeze the juice from towering stalks of sugar cane.

Decades later, Sudduth uses a tractor for the same process. He doesn’t have a …

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Traditions and tractors on display Saturday

Olde Time Days coming to Baldwin County Bicentennial Park

Posted

Darrell Sudduth’s grandfather used a mule to help squeeze the juice from towering stalks of sugar cane.

Decades later, Sudduth uses a tractor for the same process. He doesn’t have a mule he says, nor does he want to mess with one. Some modern traditions, he says, are just better.

This Saturday crowds can taste the homemade syrup as they peruse the antique tractors and farm equipment at the Olde Time Days event. The celebration, held at Baldwin County Bicentennial Park in Stockton, also features vendors, rides, games and a petting zoo.  

Sudduth, president of the South Alabama Antique Tractor and Engine Club, said the event is a tribute to traditions that many, including himself, grew up watching their grandparents perform.

“It’s just fun to do this, to keep all these traditions alive,” he said.

Crafting syrup from the sugar cane is one of the more unusual demonstrations crews will put on Saturday.

Sugar cane, also known as blue ribbon cane locally, is grown across the South to craft sugar cane syrup or molasses.

Sudduth and his crew waited until the last moment to cut the 12-foot stalks by hand with long, sharp machetes. The taller they are, he says, the better the syrup. He watched his grandparents boil the syrup for hours in a pan that was longer than they were tall, over an open fire. As the water reduces, the syrup thickens.

Sudduth skims the impurities off the top, over and over again, just as he watched his grandfather do. That, he says, is the secret to quality syrup.

Modern cooks debate temperature, viscosity and use expensive hydrometers to determine when to pull the syrup off the flame. His grandfather, Sudduth says, could simply look at it, and know.

“I don’t have that experience yet,” he says.

Now some of these traditions are finding a resurgence, Sudduth says, among shoppers who want more natural options.

“It seems like everybody wants this down to Earth, grass-fed, free range option now,” Sudduth said. “And people think because this is natural it’s healthy but it still sugar and that’s not necessarily healthy but it’s as sweet as can be.”

So sweet that if no one’s looking, Sudduth might just sneak a taste while the syrup boils and bubbles.

It’s not just good, he says, it’s delicious.

“It’s like eating pure sugar,” he says.