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Apr 20, 2011
Zippity Yay!


Dear Y'all,

No, we are not recovered from the First Ever Zippity Doo Dah® Parade and Festival Weekend in Fondren—but we sure are happy about it! Boy-hidee—was that some fun, or what? Many thanks to our Parade Veterans (most often affectionately referred to as “Parade Sluts”) for heppin’ all the “PARADE VIRGINS” have such a wonderful first-time experience. Now, the torch is passed to all you Virgins (now Sluts)—you are expected to help shepherd a whole new crop of Virgins next year and so on, in the grand Circle of Queenly Life.

The whole weekend was fairly perfect—those of us who gathered on Wednesday for some anticipatory mouth-breathing had a fine time and we would welcome all to join us for the Pre-Lims next year! Thursday—lordamercy—Cat Nail and Beth Elliott kept the Hilton (and us) rockin’ from 12 to 12 with a constant show from some of the finest singer/songwriters in the state. Many thanks to them—and to all the fabulous “MISSICIANS” who are so generous with their time and boundless talents.

The BIG HAT LUNCHEON™ at Sal & Mookie's New York Pizza & Ice Cream Joint was roundly acclaimed by us all to be THE BEST EVER! The staff was utterly delightful and the food was wonderful—although I am still pretty miffed about the tiny hunk of that pecan pie stuff that I was shorted—the venue was big and open and we were all together which made for great energy and no small amount of noise and hilarity. I was particularly taken with MY NEW HAT—courtesy of Tom Courtney—who also had for hisownself a very large and fine hat of his own creation. Here’s what I wanna know though—HOW COME MY HAT WEIGHED 50 POUNDS AND HIS, WHICH WAS JUST AS BIG AS MINE, WAS PRACTICALLY WEIGHTLESS??? 

If you look here at DUANE JONES' 2011 SPQ™/ZDD™ PHOTOS (just click on Contuine after the page loads), which is a good way to spend an afternoon and remember, 20% of all your purchases from him will go to the Chirren!—you will see that I finally betook myself to a CORNER ON THE PORCH, where I could literally PROP THE HAT AGAINST THE WALL to help my little chicken neck support the thing! It was tied on, with an enormous ribbon and so tightly, my breathing process was severely curtailed and I STILL had to keep one hand on it at all times when not wedged against the wall, to prevent myentireself from toppling over—while Tom was able to flounce freely about, with his big giant hat lightly perched on his head, requiring no supporting tethers or hands for stabilization. Hmmmm…Sir Tom must be held Accountable.

The Sal & Mookie’s Children’s Carnival was Big Fun and I discovered that I am Quite Good at the Dunking Booth! Jeff Good was the Designated Dunk-ee and many folks were unsuccessfully lobbing balls at the target on the release mechanism. I studied their technique for some minutes, preparing for my own attempt at plunging him into the watery shallows. It didn’t take me overlong to discover the flaw in their method:  the whole ball-throwing thing. I surveyed the area, surmised quickly that there was no “security” in place and, ignoring the immediately cognizant Jeff’s horrified “oh no! you would not DARE’s!” and similar pleas, I simply walked straight up to the booth and gave that target a sound “thump” and WHOOSH! INTO THE WATER HE WENT! TA-DA!! Easy Peasy.

Had SUCH a Big Time at The MARKET in Fondren on Saturday—sampling CAROLINE’S CAKES and the now-famous ICED TEA COOKIES in Campbell's Bakery! I got some darlin’ BLUEBIRD EARRINGS from my good friend Janne Swearengen and I found a painting of myself in the very first parade, by BAXTER KNOWLTON at Fischer Gallery.

I posed for photos in front of all the wildly embellished PORT-A-POTTIES from McGraw Gotta-Go in the Fondren Un-Zipped™ Contest. The winning potty was by Garden Works and it looked a lot like ME! In the photos, I have a hard time telling which one is me, actually. They won the Great Googly-Moogly™ Gotta-Go Grand Prize. (All the sought-after trophies for the Weekend were designed and handcrafted by Mississippi Craftsmen’s Guild members, Anne Campbell and Elizabeth Robinson.)

Before we knew it Saturday, it was time for the grand finale: the Patty Peck Honda Doo Dah Day Blue Care Giveaway™! With the clock ticking rapidly toward Parade Time, we had to interrupt the FANTASTIC PERFORMANCE by the darlin’ and very talented DAVID ADAM BYRNES in order to allow me to help find the winner and then race up to the Hilton to suit up.

We had all the key winners there on the Clear Channel Stage—except for one so I was the proxy. Everybody drew an envelope containing a key—and I, the Proxy, got the last one. In turn, each winner tried their key—none worked on the locked treasure box. With great trepidation, I approached the box with the last remaining key—wondering what the heck was gonna happen if my key didn’t work either!—but IT DID! And so I got to impersonate the absent but no doubt Delighted Winner—Philip Holman—and I’m sure, had he been there hisownself, he could not have hopped and squealed with any more enthusiasm than I did in my powerful portrayal of him. (There is supporting VIDEO for this claim, of course—and some great footage of the whole weekend—looky here.)

Photos and videos will show you that the Sweet Potato Queens® HAD NEW PARADE OUTFITS THIS YEAR, designed and beautifully made for us by SequinQueen, of course! The Parade was an absolute dee-light, start to finish—with second-line jazz bands, the incredible MURRAH HIGH SCHOOL marching band and, of course, ALL THE QUEENS! 

Judging was done in the line-up area, pre-parade, so the winners were identified with banners as they marched through the streets. My high school girlfriends, THE QUEENS’ CLASSYMATES, WINGFIELD ’70, won the Batson Bluebird™ Trophy—for Heppin’ the Chirren—by raising $20,000! They also got to ride on my very own lit-up crown float with the SPQs. 

The SoFabulous SOFO QUEENS won the Fondren Fabulous Funk™ Trophy—and they were guarded throughout the Parade by the Only Sheriff We Ever REALLY LOVED, the inimitable Malcom McMillan. We were quite jealous.

A brand-new Chapter—the MAHOGANY DREAM QUEENS—won the Super Satisfactual & Plenny o’ Sunshine™ trophy. The MDQs created quite a stir in their magnificent AFRO WIGS—so much so that we have decided to RE-NAME the FRIDAY NIGHT SPQ™ BALL next year and in all the years to come. Beginning in 2012, we will host the SWEET POTATO QUEENS’ BIG HAIR BALL™. You should know that I have already begun shopping for my Big Hair. Game On, as it were.

We looooved the night-time Parade and we looooved the route—even that one killer hill was not bad for walking slowly! The photos of it all are simply gorgeous with all the lights—quite magical, really. Check ‘em out!

We’re already working on NEXT YEAR,

March 22-25, 2012;

so, let us know YOUR THOUGHTS asap.

**We will have MORE BANDS, for sure, and we will have Parade Marshals along the route, helping to keep the pace slow enough to allow for more throwing time for us and more viewing time for the spectators.

** We’ll have docents on the buses as we enter Fondren on Friday and Saturday—pointing out What Shops and Galleries and Bakeries and Restaurants Are Where Exactly so then you can actually read your maps that we gave you! (I know, I can’t read a map to save my life either—but if somebody points out a wonderful dress shop or interior design studio or burger joint—I can dang well find it again!)

**What would you think about “wagons for hire”—including a kid to pull it for you—to tote all your beads through the route for you? 

HUGE AND NEVER-ENDING THANKS to our (imagine every adjective indicating GREATNESS that you can think of here) SPONSORS, without whom, none of it would have been possible: Patty Peck Honda, BancorpSouth, Southern Beverage/BudLight, Brown Bottling Group/Pepsi, Cathead Vodka, Comcast, Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Cirlot Agency, Clear Channel Radio and The Everyday Gourmet.

There will be a Zippity Doo Dah® press conference at Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children on May 17, at which time we will be presenting a Big A** Check to the Chirren. I don’t have the final final yet—but the early tally has us at OVER $50,000.00!  Stay tuned for the Big A**Total!

The NEW T-SHIRTS that were on sale at the Parade are now available online in the SPQ™ Store—tank tops for the first time, even! *A CAUTIONARY WORD ABOUT THE NEW SHIRTS: The photos are terrible! The sample shirts had been in Shipping Tammy's car since the Parade I made the Personal Executive Decision NOT to Iron The Stupid Things Before TCBITW Took the Photos! You shirts will look significantly better than the ones in the photos! Bwahah!

Shipping Tammy has put the ETCHED GLASSES on sale for 20% off—limited quantities, order quick.

All in all, the bottom line is this: We had a ball—even without the final total in hand, we know it is the Most Money Ever raised for the Chirren—Fondren loved the Queens—the Queens loved Fondren—and so a Happy Marriage has been formed—ZIPPITY YAY! 

SIDE NOTE: Y'all may have missed my first note regarding this; so, I'm including it again. You've gotta go see one of the best movies this year—The Music Never Stopped. Jim Kohlberg, the Director and Producer is a friend of Kiltboy’s… and Kyle’s publishing company, Context Publishing, will publish Jim’s first novel, The Golden Gate is Red (we’ll keep y’all posted on that!)—so Jim’s just like family. TCBITW and I watched The Music Never Stopped the other day and just LOOOVED it!!! It even brought a tear to his eyes. And the music’s outstanding—assuming you like Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Crosby, Stills & Nash and Buffalo Springfield, just to name a few! Click HERE for the official film site.

Be Particular—jillconnerbrowneTHEsweetpotatoqueen

Write to me anytime at hrhjill@sweetpotatoqueens.com —with funny stories, GOOD OBITUARIES, and/or Questions about Life Itsownself—I'm often wrong, but NEVER IN DOUBT!

Continue Being Particular—

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