Sweet Potato Queens, ZDD Weekend and Aunt Faye’s 100th birthday celebration!

Aunt Faye knows about having fun!

Aunt Faye knows about having fun!

From March 21-24, Jackson, MS was a sea of tiaras as women (and some men) came from all walks of life to celebrate the power of play, to raise money for Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital, to meet new friends and hang out with old friends.

Armed with tiaras, blingy jewelry , false eyelashes, wigs and more- we set out to make the long weekend even more fun than the previous year. This year was even more special because Aunt Faye was turning 100 in April- and she was going to be the Grandmaster of the Parade.

Friday- if you were in Fondren, you may have seen more big hats than you ever could imagine. At Sal and Mookie’s, the Big Hat Luncheon was happening- the food was good, the laughs and good times were contagious, and the creativity for big hats was something else. Give some of these women a simple hat, some tulle, hot glue, and other fancy add-ons- and they’ll give you a masterpiece that you can wear.

Friday night, The Bouffants were supposed to perform in Fondren, but due to inclement weather- they came to Hilton. And those ladies put on a show for the Queens. Great songs, fun times- The Bouffants were amazing. Friday was also PJ’s and Pearls- and yes, we really wear PJ’s and Pearls. As we listened to music, ate dinner, had drinks- seeing how cute and creative people could be in PJ’s and Pearls was fun!


cute guy

Saturday morning was Color Me Rad Run/Walk- it was Jackson’s first time to have CMR- and it was a sold out event. 8,000 people showed up to “get rad with color”! People walked and ran through clouds of color at designated places, and by the end- everyone looked tie-dyed!

Such a fun time!

Such a fun time!

Saturday night was the parade. The parade winds through the streets of Fondren (a neighborhood in Jackson). People came out to see the costumes, catch the beads, and the rain stayed away- until the last person was on the bus headed back to the Hilton for the after parade party!

Mermaids (plus a lady who wanted a pic)

Mermaids (plus a lady who wanted a pic)

A Mermaid and 2 Village Sweeties

A Mermaid and 2 Village Sweeties


Cynthia and Me at the photobooth! No, we don’t have any kind of fun together! lol


Thursday night: Village Sweeties, 2 Mermaids, and Divine Sisters = Fun times!


After a fun weekend of hanging with friends, raising money for Blair E. Batson and laughing – it was time for the Bathrobe Brunch- and for saying good-bye to everyone till next year. I can’t wait to see all the fabulous and fantastic ladies for the next ZDD weekend!

Zippity Doo Dah 2012

I suppose it’s better late than never, so here goes about Zippity Doo Dah 2012 (ZDD). This is the 2nd year of this event- the event used to take place during the Mal’s St. Paddy’s Day parade in Jackson.  Now Jackson has 2 weekends of parades- so March is just a big fun month!

When I arrived in town on Thursday, I immediately saw a pile of women from last year- we all hugged and did the “Ahh! You’re here! What’s been going on?” thing. After unloading my car and taking my stuff to my room- I had to sit in the AC for a bit- it was HOT. Then I went and met up with some of the women- we stood around, talked, and made plans for dinner that night. 18 of us piled into Burger and Blues (a great little place to eat- good hamburgers, sweet potato fries, and and fun atmosphere.) Bless our server’s heart, he did not quit that night after setting 18 women wearing crowns and/or boas. We were a slightly loud crowd, but we were having fun and reuniting after a year of being apart. After eating till our heart was content (and everyone had a full belly) it was back to the Hilton for a night of bands and music. Several different bands played that night- and it was a blast hanging out with friends I see once a year and meeting new ladies!

Friday the first event of the day is called Big Hat Luncheon. And yes, we wear BIG Hats. The past couple of years it’s been held at Sal and Mookies- this great place to eat in Fondren. Pizza, pasta, great drinks and desserts-it’s got something for everybody. It’s non-smoking, has a great patio and a good staff. Eating there and hanging out with friends was a great way to start the Friday. After lunch, most of us went walking around Fondren (it’s small enough you can walk, but big enough that there is much to do!) Most stores were having sales, the weather was nice, and it was just a good day to play outside. After playing in Fondren for sometime- I went to Everyday Gourmet to pick up my Gail Pittman bird (yes, the Gail Piitman that does the dishes- well she designs a bird to sell for Zippity Doo Dah, as well). After that, went back to the hotel to see what was going on and begin to get ready for the night events- The Sweet Potato Queen Ball. After spending some of the afternoon getting made up with false eyelashes and glitter eyes (Thanks to Jen and Jodi!) I went to my room to put my sparkly dress and electric blue wig on- and then I headed to the ball. There was live music- good live music! And it’s always nice to see everyone so dressed up in their outfits- wigs, crowns, sparkly dresses- you name it, it could be there.

Saturday morning, back in Fondren, at Duling Hall- Jill Conner Browne signed her newest book, Fat is the new 30. Cathead Vodka helped sponsor the book signing- there was biscuits, bacon and screw drivers or bloody mary drinks to enjoy. Also Randall Wallace ( We Were Soldiers) was there. He comes most years, if he can make it, from what I understand- I missed seeing him the year before; but he was so kind to pose for a picture with me this year.

Randall Wallace and me- ZDD 2012

Melanie, Jill, Me- getting our books signed

After a delightful morning of yummy food, meeting Hollywood royalty and getting my book signed- it time for some more shopping and then decorating our float for the parade. Once the work was over, though, the ladies in my group headed to eat at Que Sera Sera- and then some of us went back to hotel to start getting ready (it takes a long time to get in those dresses and get wigs, false eyelashes and crowns looking right- BUT, it is so fun!). The parade line-up began at 6, so we did not have much time to waste.

The parade is just something a person has to see to even believe. Tons of women, dressed up in various outfits, laughing and having a great time. People stopping us to take pictures. Beads flying through the air. Waving to friends. Seeing kids excited. And knowing that while you are having a good time, by doing this, the money you help raise is going to Blair E. Batson for the sick children who are there. After the parade is over, and the car has been given away- begin heading back to the cars and we see the Sweet Potato Queen Float. And they let us take a picture on the float. So cross that off the bucket list, folks- I have a pic of myself on the float, in the big chair. It’s a good night.

SPQ Float- with PPPPPQ’s

The last event of Saturday is the Pearls and PJ’s party. And you guessed it- everyone shows up in Pearls and PJ’s. There is live music, food, and the giveaway of the big crown. It’s fun and fabulous- and a chance to relax while having fun because you are not in the costumes.

Sunday morning dawns bright and early for Bathrobe Brunch- shrimp and grits, pig candy, and other yummy breakfast foods. This is where we are reminded that play is good for the soul, and gather to say goodbye to new and old friends. Bathrobe Brunch is the more serious of the events- it’s a quiet reflection of why and how play is good for you, a reminder that life, if you don’t squeeze some fun into it, is boring.

The weekend is a fun weekend, filled with interesting ladies and great memories to be made!

Zippity Doo Dah Parade 2011

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!

Black Eyed Peas Queens


Queens having fun!


Mermaids and Me


More Queens having fun


ZDD Banner


PPPPPQ's having a good time!


Some Rolling River Queen's getting on the Trolley


Ladies in Blue!


Friday Night Sweet Potato Queen Ball


Deb- my welcoming committee


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