• 59°

Sweet Potato Queen coming for BARL’s ‘Sweet 16’

It’s definitely going to be a “Sweet 16” party for the guests at this year’s Brookhaven Animal Rescue League’s annual Celebrity Dinner and Auction.

Best-selling author Jill Conner Browne, also known as the “Sweet Potato Queen,” will appear at the 16th annual BARL fundraiser, which will be held at the Lincoln Civic Center Oct. 22. Doors open at 5:15 p.m.

The fundraiser will include dinner prepared by chef Chris McSweyn from Porches Restaurant in Wesson, silent and live auctions, and some lively words from Browne, who has authored nine books since creating the Sweet Potato Queen in the 1980s.

Through Browne’s books, personal appearances, and social media she has inspired 6,400 registered Sweet Potato Queen Wannabe Chapter Groups, in 37 countries around the world, said BARL board member Rusty Adcock.

“We’re glad to have Jill Conner Brown join us for our annual fundraiser. She should add a whole new level of fun to the celebrity dinner,” Adcock said.

Browne is a founding member of the Women’s Fund of The Community Foundation of Greater Jackson. She assisted Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, raising over $100,000 in cash through her website; she cooked with Chefs for Humanity for law enforcement and victims on the Gulf Coast; she did cleanup detail with Camp Coast Care and she participated in the nationally televised “Mississippi Rising Gala Concert,” raising in excess of $15 Million. Browne serves on the volunteer board of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and on the executive board of trustees for Extra Table — a not-for-profit that provides healthy food in bulk to food pantries and soup kitchens in Mississippi.

She received the Mississippi National Guard Patriot Award for her support of our military and was chosen by Mississippi Business Journal for their 50 Leading Business Women in Mississippi. The Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women awarded Browne Woman of the Year 2013 for her outstanding contributions in the Performing Arts & Entertainment Field. She received the Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence 2017 GIVE Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Building Initiatives.

Brown lives in Raymond with her husband and their rescues — a lab-Weimaraner mix, a lab-coonhound mix a lab-“party mix.”

“She also owns rescue dogs which makes her a perfect fit for a BARL event,” Adcock said.

Hometown celebrities — city and county officials, first responders, bankers, doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, etc. — serve as waiters for the event. The tips they collect benefit BARL. 

“Our waiters come up with clever themes for their tables and show up in full costume. They really set the tone for an evening of entertainment,” he said.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling BARL volunteer Julie Montalvo at 601-757-1057.

BARL volunteers are currently recruiting waiters, collecting items for the live and silent auctions, and signing up businesses as sponsors. Anyone interested in being part of the event should contact Montalvo for more information.

Money raised through the dinner and auctions support BARL’s mission to humanely care for shelter animals while contributing to community activities that reduce pet overpopulation, encourage responsible pet ownership, protect public health and safety, and promote the human-animal bond, Adcock said.

BARL is a nonprofit, volunteer based, limited-admission animal welfare organization serving Lincoln, Copiah and Franklin counties. BARL provides food, shelter and veterinary services for homeless animals until they are adopted. All BARL animals are vaccinated and spayed/neutered.  Dogs are also micro-chipped.

Anyone interested in adopting, contributing, or volunteering should contact BARL at 601-757-4367 or info@barl.net. Donations are tax deductible and may be mailed to BARL, P.O. Box 3477, Brookhaven, MS  39603.

A few of BARL’s adoptable animals may be viewed online at www.barl.net or on the Brookhaven Animal Rescue League Facebook page.