Meet the honorees for the 75th Annual Sugar Cane Festival
Jim Simon, manager of the American Sugar Cane League, was among the community leaders selected by the Sugar Cane Festival to honor the sugarcane industry, Louisiana's top row crop. The 75th annual Sugar Cane Festival will be held September 20th-25th in New Iberia. Also honored are Jimmy and Virginia Shea, Jessie Breaux, and Ted Viator.
Mr. Iberia – James H. "Jim" Simon
Jim Simon, a resident of New Iberia possesses a genuine interest in agriculture and its people. His family has been in the sugar business for several generations. His grandfather was a sugar cane producer in St. James Parish, his father served as County Agent in St. Mary Parish and his brother farmed cane in St. Mary Parish. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Mechanization in 1983 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
He successfully completed LSU's Agricultural Leadership Development Program in 2003 and the Leadership Louisiana Program in 2007.
Jim is a former Senior Vice-President of Hibernia National Bank in New Iberia where he was active in agricultural and commercial lending.
He has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors, Director, and chaired numerous committees on many civic organizations such as the Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce, the Iberia Industrial Development Foundation, the Louisiana Sugarcane Fair & Festival Association and Shadows on the Teche – National Trust Property.
He has served as the Chairman of the Board and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Sugar Association, the national organization that promotes the consumption of sugar as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle through the use of sound science and research.
In June 2005, Jim accepted the position of the General Manager of the American Sugar Cane League where he manages the day to day operations of the sugar industry's trade association. His is responsible for coordinating the federal and state lobbying activities, monitoring research activities, is the editor of The Sugar Bulletin, (the Louisiana industry's monthly magazine), and deals with environmental, trade, and other industry issues, as well as social and cultural issues which have a daily impact on the Louisiana sugar industry.
Jim, his wife (the former Nancy Rougeou), and their four children reside in New Iberia.
Grand Marshals – Jimmy and Virginia Shea
Jimmy & Virginia Shea, natives & lifelong residents of New Iberia, reside on the Bayou Teche. They have been married 41 years. They have three children, Rhyan Wheeler (husband Kerby), Brie Hodges (husband Trey), and Charles Shea (wife Stephanie). They are the proud grandparents of seven girls and boys, ranging in ages 8 years to 2 months.
Jimmy is retired after a 35 year career as Executive Vice President Operations The Bayou Companies. He spends his time maintaining hunting properties in Louisiana & Mississippi, where he hunts duck, deer, turkey & alligators.
Virginia is a retired clinical social worker. She does whatever is needed for Jimmy, the children & grandchildren.
Both have been participants of the Sugar Cane boat parade for many years, hosting judges & dignitaries on the Pipe Dream I & II.
Volunteer of the Year – Jessie Breaux
Jessie is a 1969 graduate of Franklin High School in Franklin where he was the President of the FFA chapter, and upon graduation he received the American Legion Award. In 1974 he graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy. Upon graduation he received the Agronomy Student Award from The American Society of Agronomy.
After graduation, he went to work for the South Coast Sugar Corporation. One year later he went to work for Pete deGravelles, Jr. He managed Pete's farm, Teche Planting Company Inc., for nine years. It was during that time when he received the Outstanding Young Farmer Award from the Franklin Jaycees. He bought out part of Pete's farming operation in 1982. He then formed Bayou Cane Company, Inc. Jessie is a fourth generation suga rcane farmer. He retired February 1st, 2014, after farming for thirty-two years.
He served as President of the St. John and Hanson School Board for two years and as a board member for nine years. He is a member of the Church of the Assumption in Franklin. He has also served for six years in the Louisiana National Guard. He graduated from LSU's Agricultural Agricultural Leadership Program as a member of Class IV in 1996. He serves on the Agricultural Leaders of Louisiana's board of directors. He served as President of the Agricultural Leaders of Louisiana alumni association for two years. He was King Sucrose the 69th of the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival. He served as President of the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival board for three years and as Vice President for one year.
He is a member of the board of directors of the American Sugar Cane League and was President from 2007 to 2009. He is also a member of the ASSCT, a member of the Farm Service Agency county committee and a board member of the St. Mary Parish Farm Bureau. He has also served as a board of director of St. Mary Sugar Cooperative, Inc. Since 1986 and has been the secretary-treasurer for the past 30 years.
He is employed by JMP Partnership LLC as their agronomist.
Festival Honoree – Ted Viator
Ted is the owner of Viator and Associates, a Landscape Architectural Design Firm in Lafayette, Louisiana. Ted was born in New Iberia, the youngest son of Ethel Mae Pesson and Rebellion Viator. Ted's two older brothers, George and Jack, are Sugar Cane Farmers and founded 'Rebel V Farms' in New Iberia. He graduated from New Iberia Senior High and Lester Mae's School of Dance in 1973. He then attended Louisiana State University where he received a bachelor's degree in Landscape Architecture. He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and has received several design awards, and his projects have appeared in numerous publications nationally. He now serves on the committee to design and construct "The George Rodrigue Memorial Park" on Main Street New Iberia. Ted is also a licensed florist and owns The Gardenaire, a full service floral shop in Lafayette
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Ted is also a very active member in the Acadiana community. He is a member of the Mystic Krewe of Apollo de Lafayette, Shadows on the Teche Special Events Committee, the League for Equality, the Krewe of Bonaparte and was
Outstanding ULL Alumni 2004. Ted was a contestant for Dancing with the Stars Sacred Heart and Ascension School's Blue Gator Boogie and he is also on the faculty of the Gerami Academy.
Ted served on the La Sugar Cane Festival Board from 1987-1992, where he was able to bring the 'Flower and Horticulture Show' back to the festival and help produce and direct the Queen Sugar Coronation. Ted has served on the committee for the Stars of Style Fundraiser since 2012and is on the founding committee for this year's 75th Anniversary Festival new event on Thursday evening 'FARM FEST', which will be held on the ground of The Shadows on the Teche.
Ted celebrated a milestone birthday in 2015 by organizing a fundraising event, "TED'S EVENT TO REMEMBER", benefiting the Alzheimer's Association of Louisiana. For this event he re-gathered the talented 'Sugar Lumps', who were Goodwill Ambassadors for the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival and Fair from 1956-1984. Since then, the Sugar Lumps plus Ted have continued to meet, dance, and perform for community events such as Beneath the Balconies in New Iberia, the State Louisiana Assisted Living Association Conference in New Orleans, and the Stars of Style 2016. As the La Sugar Cane Festival and Fair celebrates its 75th Anniversary, the Sugar Lumps plus Ted will be participating in several events the festival weekend.
For more information on the festival, visit Hi,Sugar! (http://hisugar.org/wordpress/) or call 337-369-9323.
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