An event that was both sweet and spicy

Hundreds gathered at Raising Cane, A Sweet and Spicy Event on Jan. 11 at the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village, 15602 Pioneer Museum Road in Dade City. The event featured a chili cook-off sanctioned by the International Chili Society, a cane syrup tasting competition, a People’s Choice chili and salsa competition, live music throughout the day, a beer garden, and vendors. Guests also could visit the sugar cane mill, to watch how volunteers manufacture a batch of sugar cane syrup from start to finish. Sugar cane syrup was the staple sweetener more than 100 years ago, but declined in popularity over time because of the amount of labor required to produce the sweetener.

John Falls, left, and Marcus Copeland, use a large wooden filter to catch any impurities floating around the kettle as they boil sugar cane juice. Around 80 gallons boil in the kettle, and when the labor-intensive process is over several hours later, the Dade City men will have approximately 9 gallons of viable syrup ready for bottling. (Christine Holtzman)

Buddy Hale, of Zephyrhills, and Kathy, his wife of 11 years, listen to The Hummingbirds, one of the musical acts at Raising Cane. Other entertainers included The Cadillac Cowboys and the old-time music of San Antonio’s The Barking Dogs.

Four-year-old Hutson Borders, of Dade City, carefully keeps his balance, as he walks along a log at the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village. He was at Raising Cane, A Sweet and Spicy Event with his parents, Jenny and Josh; his brother, Jackson; and, his sisters, Emma and Susannah.

Bethany Morales, of Winter Garden, left, and her friend Lisa Powell, of Riverview, taste the many different syrups that were entered into the syrup tasting competition at Raising Cane, A Sweet and Spicy Event at the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village. Morales was attracted to the event by the chili cookoff.

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