In the eyes of Alton (Al) Landry Jr., all the past kings of the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival are in the pantheon of sugarcane industry leaders.
“I’ve always looked up to the men who were the past kings of the Sugar Cane Festival,” Landry said. “Those guys have been at the front of all the progressive changes the sugarcane industry has made throughout the years.”
So, when Landry was notified he was selected to serve as King Sucrose LXXVIII (that’s number 78!), he was thrilled.
“It’s a real honor and I’m humbled to be associated with the group of past kings,” Landry said. “I’m honored to be associated with the group of men I’ve always admired.”
Landry will reign over the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival which will be held September 26-29 in New Iberia.
How does one get to be chosen King Sucrose? First, one must be involved in the Louisiana sugarcane industry. Landry’s qualification as a future King Sucrose occurred six generations ago when his forebears began farming in White Castle.
His father, Alton Landry Sr., 86, was born on the old Laurel Ridge Plantation, two miles away from the Cora-Texas Manufacturing sugar mill, years before their rural home had indoor plumbing.
“My father is my role model and my mentor,” Landry said.
Al Landry Sr. was the past King Sucrose LXVI in 2007.
Success in the sugar industry is another King Sucrose qualification. Landry started out on his own in 1984 when he created his farming company, Alton Landry Inc. Landry currently manages more than 3,000 acres of sugarcane and soybeans. As the average size of a Louisiana sugarcane farm is 1,000 acres, Landry has demonstrated to landowners that he has the farming ability to manage a large farm.
One must also be a leader in sugarcane to be considered to represent the festival. Landry has that base covered as well. He’s a big believer in scientific research and allows a portion of his land to be used as one of twelve outfield locations for experimental cane variety development. Landry’s farm is also a secondary location when cane varieties are being tested for further development.
Herman Waguespack Jr., the director of research for the American Sugar Cane League, said, “A farmer, like Al, participating in the outfield and secondary station program does the sugarcane industry a great service because we researchers are using his land to see how well experimental varieties will do in actual commercial cane field growing environments. Al has been a big help to us.”
Landry also serves on the League’s farm machinery committee which directs research dollars to worthwhile projects.
On the political front, Landry has traveled many times to Washington D.C. as part of the League’s “fly-in” program to educate legislators and the United States Department of Agriculture policymakers about the uniqueness of the Louisiana sugarcane industry and the importance of the sugarcane industry to the national and global economy.
“I believe the older you get in the industry, your priorities change to a certain extent,” Landry said. “I’ve been in this business for 35 years and my thought process is to look at future generations. My voice needed to change, and I became an ‘ask not what your industry can do for you’ but more of a ‘what can I do for my industry.’”
Because he has a proactive attitude, Landry is active in the Iberville Parish Farm Bureau Board and served on the Farm Service Agency County Committee and the White Castle Fertilizer Cooperative. He is also a graduate of the LSU Ag Leadership program and a member of the Baton Rouge Assembly. His other interests include partnerships in L.L.&L. Properties, G&M Land Co., Walk-On’s Properties LLC and Landsaf LLC.
Landry is hoping his son, Griffon, will take up the sugarcane mantle and eventually take over the farming operation.
“My thought process is to look at the future generations,” Landry said. “My son has a real interest in farming and will finish up his degree at LSU this December in ag business.”
Landry has participated in festival activities in past years and was a 2016 honoree in the Stars of Style, the premier fundraiser of the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival. He’s also been involved in fundraising activities supporting medical research and was selected as a participant in the Baton Rouge Best Dressed Charity Ball benefiting the American Cancer Society in 2018.
Landry has been married to Debbie Carona Landry for 26 years. They have two children: 19-year-old Meredith and 22-year-old Griffon. The Landrys are active parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Plaquemine.
There’s no doubt the Sugar Cane Festival made a wise choice when they selected Al Landry Jr. as King Sucrose LXXVII.