Sweet Potato Queens- a group of fun-loving women from Mississippi. The main SPQ is Her Royal Highness Jill Conner Browne (shortened to HRH Jill for rest of my post). HRH Jill had the idea of being in the St.Paddy’s Day Parade in Jackson many years ago- and through a lot of hard work, determination and the power of a crown- she is known world-wide. Jill writes books, as well. Most are things our Southern Mama’s have been telling or thinking for years, but Jill has a way of collecting stories of hers, her own mom’s, and countless friends and associates-adding in a lot of humor, and some good advice- and making a book that is funny!
I came upon her book on a horrible weekend- my boyfriend had taken me on wedding weekend for his friend that I barely knew and I was stuck with a group of people I hardly knew, a bridesmaid that was his ex (and did not like me), and without my own set of wheels. I was having a not-fun weekend. Enter Jill- the people we were staying with had a copy of Jill’s first book, and while my boyfriend was off at a bachelor party, I stayed in and read- this book basically salvaged my weekend.
After that, I began reading all the books I could find by Jill. In the back of mind, I wanted to go one day to the St.Paddy’s Day parade/Sweet Potato Queen Weekend. Sadly, at this time, I was under the thought process that to go- I had to have a friend or 2. I would beg, plead and cajole- to no success. But, I never gave up wanting to go. In 2010, through a series of serendipitous events, I not only managed to make a plan, but to also find a group to be part of. So March 2011 found me at the parade weekend, except it had changed- it was being held a weekend later than St.Paddy’s and was now known as Zippity Doo Dah!
Upon my arrival on Thursday, I was a bit nervous- I really wasn’t sure what to expect. The group I was a part of would not be coming in to later, and I really did not know those ladies that well either. I tapped a dark haired lady on the shoulder and asked if it was her first time at the parade? This dark-haired lady turned out to be a lovely lady named Deb- who proceeded to become my “welcoming committee”. Deb introduced me to several ladies and these ladies were NICE! Everyone I was meeting was sweet and kind and quite interesting.
Me and Deb loaded up on the bus to Fondren and walked around- I took her to Brent’s Drugs (as seen in the movie “The Help”), and we went to Campbell’s Bakery for sweets. After wandering around Fondren, we headed back to the Hilton- they have live music for the Queens to enjoy! Later that night I met 3 of the nicest ladies- The Mermaids- Jen, Sharon and Kathy were wonderful and really made me feel like I was welcome!
Friday was Big Hat Luncheon- we had lunch at Sal and Mookies (and wore BIG HATS!) Friday afternoon was shopping, and Friday night was dinner and The Sweet Potato Queen Ball- live music from the Bouffants from Memphis- a great band.
Saturday-early part was more shopping, a carnival, a car giveaway and then the PARADE. Everyone got dressed up in sparkly outfits, wigs, and crowns and walked the streets of Fondren- waving to the crowds, throwing beads and other things, posing for pictures- and just having fun. Saturday night after the parade was PJ’s and Pearls. More music and karaoke next door for PJ’s and Pearls.
Sunday morning ends with Bathrobe Brunch- and this wonderful food called Pig Candy-yummm! The brunch reminds all the Queens who attend as to the reason why we played all weekend. HRH Jill will be the first to inform you that play is important- it’s what keeps us going. This whole weekend is not just about giving adults a reason to play and have fun- it’s about raising money for Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, as well. Last year, over 65,000 dollars was raised!
Some Pictures to see how much fun ZDD is!
For more information on Zippity Doo Dah- like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter @Zippity_Doo_Dah. To find more about Fondren- an artsy community that is part of Jackson- on Twitter @FondrenMS or @finditinfondren. To learn more about Sweet Potato Queens- http://www.sweetpotatoqueens.com