RIDGELAND, MS (WLBT) - Over the next few days you may notice hundreds of women sporting tiaras and curly red wigs. It is the time of year again for the Sweet Potato Queens to take over Jackson. The festivities kicked off Thursday evening with a welcome at Renaissance in Ridgeland.
"Having a gals weekend and doing girls things and no husbands," Tricia Merrick explained why she traveled from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Hundreds flock to Mississippi from everywhere on the map. Jayne Jones flew in from Anchorage, Alaska for a first time sweet potato queen experience. "I try to make sure my life is fun filled and I can't think of anything more fun than this," said Jones.
"We're the Lipstick Jungle Queens," said Bari Wallace of McCallough, Alabama. Her group is returning again this year. "We've been here several years and we come back every year. It's an annual thing for us."
There's no shortage of giant wigs or humongous jewelry. "We searched and searched for all the big gaudy, blingy jewelry we could find. Here we are," said Stacey Carpenter of Dallas, Texas.
The annual Mal's St. Paddy's Day Parade alone brings in approximately 70,000 people and over $6.8 million for Jackson, according to the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"They're coming in on Wednesday and staying until Monday. They're shopping here. They're eating in the restaurants and they're going to the bars," said boss queen Jill Conner Browne.
Browne and her series of hilarious books is what sparked the movement of fun women looking for a silly time in Jackson.
"Don't miss it. This is Jackson's unique event. You just need to get out of the house, come out and play," said Browne.
The proceeds from the Sweet Potato Queen events and Mal's St. Paddy's Day Parade go to the Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital.
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