A piercing scream rang out Saturday night throughout the auditorium of the Sugar Cane Festival Building as Taylor E. Judice was named the 76th Annual Sugar Cane Festival and Fair’s Queen Sugar.

In that august hall, Taylor was crowned by the previous Queen Sugar, 22-year-old Caroline Gayle Marcello. Marcello’s grandmother, Dorothy Bernard Caliouete, served as Queen Sugar V in 1946. “It was easily the highlight of her life,” Marcello told The Daily Iberian.

Judice, who represented Iberia Parish in the competition, graduated from Loreauville High School as valedictorian in 2014 and studies chemical engineering — with a minor in mathematics — at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She also works as an instructor and choreographer at Bridget’s Dance Academy and as a part-time secretary at the Durio, McGoffin, Stagg and Ackerman Law Firm.

In prepared remarks read during the competition, Judice said a person she’d most like to meet is Ruth Bader Ginsberg, whose independence and dedication to education she admires. 

By 7 p.m., the scheduled start time of the coronation ceremony, the parking lot was packed beyond capacity, with drivers making ersatz parking spaces on grassy medians and curbs.

First alternate went to Sydney Richardelle, of Vermilion Parish. Richardelle, a 21-year-old graduate of Erath High School, is majoring in early elementary education at Nicholls State University. 

Second alternate was Sarah Catherine LaBorde of Alexandria. A graduate of Holy Savior Menard High School, LaBorde studies marketing and public relations at Louisiana State University,. She plans to graduate in 2020. 

Jenna Rose Oubre won the People’s Choice Award. Oubre, 19, represented St. Martin Parish. A 2016 graduate of Teurlings High School, she now attends South Louisiana Community College, where she is working on an associates degree in nursing. 

The competition was judged by Lisa Smith, a Las Vegas jazz singer, entrepreneur and graphic designer; Ryan Weston, a 10-year-plus employee, since retired, of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture who was born and raised on a Nebraska cattle ranch, and Ron Smith, a 30-year Las Vegas stage performer, who now performs with the group Shades of Sinatra.

The show was complemented by a performance from the Sugar Lumps, who did a number from the musical 42nd Street, and by a dance and vocal performance by Marco Hebert.

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