Vicksburg, MS (WLBT) - Young women from almost every part of the state are in Vicksburg for the next week. They hope to win the Miss Mississippi crown and thousands of dollars in scholarship money.
Music fills the halls at the Vicksburg Convention Center. Contestants must master each step of the production numbers before Wednesday night, the first night of preliminary competition. Danielle Smith, Miss Heartland is a veteran of the pageant.
"I've learned disappointment from the last two years and growth and just that achievement of the preparation work that goes into it and not only am I further, I'm getting closer to being Miss Mississippi," said Smith.
Corie Stanford is Miss Dixie.
"When it comes to preparing for Miss Mississippi its just like preparing for life. They give you a to do list and its up to you to decide how much time and effort you want to put into it," Stanford said.
Anna Tadlock is serving as Miss New South.
"It's just a new chapter in my life, some new beginnings, and I'm here to see if I have a chance to be Miss Mississippi," Tadlock said.
There are 47 contestants this year. Some are students others are already graduates who must manage full time jobs or graduate school and studying while preparing for the pageant.
Sarah Beth James is Miss Mississippi State University.
"Despite the economic hardship that our state and our nation is going through, Miss Mississippi has actually raised the scholarships this year and that is just amazing to me," said James.
Miss Clinton Tiffany Boyte says the scholarship money draws contestants to the pageant.
"This is why we work so hard because, we're trying to pay our way through college and especially now in these times, we definitely need, every little bit counts," Boyte said.
Mary Brandon Norman, Miss Hattiesburg, says without the scholarship money she would not be able to continue her education.
"I'm the oldest of six children and my family cannot pay for college otherwise and I've paid for the last six years of college, completely with scholarships and this organization has been a huge part of that and so in continuing my education and getting my doctorate, I realize how important Miss Mississippi has been for me and how important it will be in the future," said Norman.
Rehearsals will continue throughout the week. The annual Miss Mississippi Parade is set for Monday evening. The parade begins at 7 p.m. in Downtown Vicksburg.