NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches residents received a sweet treat on Saturday. The Sweet Tooth Sugarcane Event provided all who came with a look back into the old-fashioned practice of turning sugar cane into syrup.
“We like having this day where everything really is alive and we’re using it and we’re showing how people used to live and it really kind of makes people very nostalgic,” assistant historic site manager Jessica Sowell said.
Visitors experienced frontier practices of a time gone by like making biscuits in a dutch oven, creating syrup with a mule-powered mill, and even forging metal tools with a hammer and an anvil.
“I made a bunch of nails, it’s kind of a fun shape to work out,” blacksmith Trey Tomes said. “I had to make a tool in order to make the nails. I made a fire poker, that’s what this thing is. I had the same kind of thing of making the hook, putting a twist in it. It was satisfying to figure out.”
Blacksmithing is an artistic outlet for Tomes, who works as a computer programmer. He says he took up the craft after years of being fascinated by other blacksmiths.
“I’ve been doing this for a little over a year now,” Tomes said. “It always felt unachievable, like it’s just something for other people to learn. It just occurred to me one day that I actually can learn to do this.”
For Tomes, the process of forging metal tools and programming computers isn’t all that different.
“In a way, it’s a very similar kind of work,” Tomes said. “Problem-solving, trying to figure out how you’re going to make a shape. Same as with computer programming, trying to figure out how you’re going to convince the computer to make a certain type of program.”
He says that practicing this historic trade not only helps him express creativity, it also allows him to reflect on the past while appreciating the present.
“Actually getting yourself into the thick of all this historic crafting can help you appreciate what you have these days,” Tomes said.