King Ben Becnel: King of 2012 Plaquemines Parish Orange FestivalAug 21st, 2012 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: top story
Celebrating the announcement of the newest Orange King, former festival royalty, made the traditional toast to King Ben Becnel,
seated. From left, the former kings are Patrick Becnel Sr., Bobby Gravolet, Dale Benoit, David Pavlovich, Bobby Thomas, Anthony
Buras Jr., Borden Wallace, Frank Patti, Judge Micheal Kirby, Stanley Gaudet, Robert Cappiello, Darryl Bubrig, George Pivach II,
Jimmy Cappiello and Bill Bubrig.
Fifth generation farmer Benjamin Xavier Becnel will be the
2012 Plaquemines Parish Fair and Orange Festival King.
“I was kinda overcome,” said Becnel about the night Judge
Micheal Kirby along with many other past kings, called him and
asked if he would be this year’s king. “I though he was going to
ask me about some kind of lawsuit!”
It’s Orange King tradition to have past kings gather at the Beef
Connection for dinner and vote on who would be the “newest
member of our fraternity,” as Kirby put it. Once decided, they
call the selection, and if he says yes, each and everyone of the
past kings talks to the their successor.
“The decision was not difficult and we settled on our
recommendation in near record time,” explained Kirby. “We
all know that our Association was grounded in showcasing and
advancing our beloved parish’s agriculture… The Kings thought
this year was a good year for the Fair and Festival to acknowledge
its agricultural roots.”
Of course, in Plaquemines Parish, the name Becnel is
synonymous with Citrus. But this Becnel grows a lot more
than oranges. His crops include tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic,
blueberries, and even cantaloupe—a yield once thought of as
impossible to grow in Louisiana climates.
His mother Gladys, was a Brandt. His father Alexander Brandt
was not a farmer, instead he oversaw Woodland, LaReusitte,
Alliance and Rosilie Plantations. Although Becnel never met his
grandfather, he now owns and leases some of the property his
grandfather managed. In fact, most of his vegetables are grown
on the former Alliance Plantation land, which he now leases.
“It’s very exciting,” said Becnel’s son Ben Jr.
“It’s awesome!” laughed daughter-in-law Angie. “There’s no
one else that deserves it more.”
Becnel is also very proud of his family who works with him at
his stands in Alliance and at the head of the Belle Chasse tunnel.
“I look forward to passing the crown to you in November and
not a minute sooner,” said 2011 King Borden Wallace. “It’s been
a wonderful time and I hope you have as much fun as I did.”
The 2012 festival is set for Nov. 30 -Dec. 2 at Fort Jackson.