VARDAMAN, Miss. (WTVA) - It's a festival that features a week of events and activities all rolled into one long celebration.
The annual Sweet Potato Festival is underway in Vardaman.
A festival that is 39 years and growing has a deep and personal connection for people who look forward to sharing their experiences of growing a vegetable that has put Vardaman on the map.
"I've grown up on the farm. I even have been in the process of making the boxes they're shipped in. I've helped at the bakery. I've rolled out sausage balls. There is a very deep connection," added Blaine Parker, Vardaman resident.
They even offer what it's like to try one.
"It's delicious," adds Parker. "If you haven't tried it, you need to try it. The taste is undescribable."
Which raises the question: what is the secret to growing a tasty sweet potato?
"Hot weather most of the time for it to be really good soil. A lot of times they like the real sandy soil," adds Carla Spencer, Vardaman resident. "It seems to grow a lot prettier sweet potato, makes it a little sweeter."
For local residents, one of the things they look forward to when it comes to the annual Sweet Potato Festival is sharing secrets about the vegetable; for example, there's anywhere between 30 and 50 ways to prepare it.
"There's so many ways with a sweet potato," adds Ginger McAlester, Amory resident. "Like all of the fudges and french fries, pancakes that you can make with sweet potatoes that people are not really aware of."
"As locals we look forward to this day just because of the meaning behind it," added Kalyn Wright, Vardaman resident. "We are the sweet potato capital of the world, so we have a lot of history with it and they mean a lot to us."
First-time visitors to the festival say the tasty treats are worth the trip.
"There's so much to do [and] a lot of good food. We got some T-shirts, we got a cookbook and we're excited to use it," adds Vern Christensen, Amory resident.
"It's fun out here," added Robin Christen, Amory resident. "[There are] lots of good people, lots of great arts and crafts [and] great weather."