A survey of Southern holiday tables loaded with homemade dishes and delights will almost always include sweet potatoes. Smothered, whipped, candied, with or without marshmallows, or the favorite among favorites, layered in a flaky piecrust—these are just a few ways that our country consumes a whopping eight pounds per person of this sweet and delicious vegetable each year.
And the ever-growing love of sweet potatoes keeps the farmers in the Hospitality State extremely busy, especially around the quaint town of Vardaman, Mississippi.
Known as the “Sweet Potato Capital of the World,” and with a variety featuring deep orange flesh and golden skin named after it, Vardaman and its residents fully embrace this distinguished title. Just after the fall harvest season when farmers make an all-hands-on-deck effort to harvest more than 540-million pounds of sweet potatoes, Vardaman hosts its annual Sweet Potato Festival with the 47th event scheduled for November 6–13, 2021.
This creative and quirky festival boasts tasting booths, cook-offs, pie-eating contests, and competitions all starring the beloved sweet potato. And, of course, there is the distinguished crowning of a sweet potato king and queen.
But the most coveted treasures to come out of the festival are the prizewinning cook-off recipes that will grace special occasions for generations to come. Adults, kids, and all ages in between in this spud-studded area of Mississippi have spent years perfecting the most delectable sweet potato recipes.
And around the holiday season, the heavenly smells of Cindy’s Sweet Potato Cheese Cake Squares, Harlie’s Sweet Potato Brownies, Nee-Nee’s Sweet Potato Pie, and others fill homes across the state and bring warm memories of holidays past.