Organizers worked to raise awareness for Seabrook Village with Saturday’s Sugar Cane Festival, which featured cane grinding and extraction, free hayrides and tours of the historic community.
As visitors arrived, they were ushered onto a hayride that provided a unique view of residential dwellings, a church, a school and acres of land. Afterward, guests could explore the buildings that contained preserved artifacts, many of which are over 100 years old. Near the homes, an outhouse, a working water well and wash bins for laundry still stand.
“People need to know about their history of the community,” village manager Florence Tate-Roberts said. “These tours only show a taste of what was once here.”
Inside the site’s museum, festival attendees examined displays and marveled at exhibits showcasing the clothes villagers once wore, the food they ate and tools they used. Sugar cane was and still is a popular crop in Seabrook Village. It is used to make sugar, syrup and to sweeten other edible items. Visitors were given the opportunity to buy some of the local sugar cane and learn how to extract it.
Seabrook Village Foundation board member Christopher Hendricks volunteered at the event, helping to operate the sugar-cane extraction machine while telling guests about harvesting and using sugar cane, as well as its importance to the community.
“This was our first time letting the kids grind the sugar cane themselves,” Hendricks said.
The machine he helped run is comprised of a horizontal stripped tree over 8 feet long, which acts as a lever, a metal holster and two grinding gears. Once the sugar cane is placed between the gears, operators on both sides of the tree must push clock-wise to grind the cane juice, which filters through the machine and out of a spout.
“The sugar cane tastes like nothing, like water!” said 9-year-old Collin Baross, who was the first visitor to extract and taste the Seabrook sugar cane.
City of Hinesville Public Relations Manager Krystal Hart also helped out at the festival, but not in an official capacity.
“For me, it has a personal meaning. My grandmother and grandfather met here, and 60 years later are still together,” she said.
Hart’s grandparents attended the village’s one-room school, where children learned reading, writing, arithmetic and domestic skills. The women usually continued their education until around eighth grade, while the boys were forced to leave to take care of their households.
“Because of this, my grandfather makes it his task to attend all 19 of his grandchildren’s graduations. He knows the importance of having family together,” Hart said.
Years ago, the school served as the site of an annual weeklong summer camp, during which local children — including Hart — learned about the skills that once were used in the Seabrook community. However, due to a lack of funding, the historic site had to end the camp.
“This is why we have events such like the Sugar Cane Festival — to raise awareness of our community for publicity and preservation,” Tate-Roberts said.