Two Miss Mississippi contestants withdraw from pageant - - Jackson, MS

Two Miss Mississippi contestants withdraw from pageant

Caitlyn Smith & Shelby Smith   Source: Miss MS Pageant Caitlyn Smith & Shelby Smith Source: Miss MS Pageant

The number of contestants at the Miss Mississippi Pageant is down by two. Last year's third runner up, Miss Coastal Waters, Caitlyn Smith who is from Columbus has dropped out and Miss Southwest Community College, Shelby Smith is not competing. It has been an emotional year for the pageant also dealing with the tragic deaths of three long time volunteers.

The 2011 program book features tributes to three people who worked with the pageant collectively over 40 years. Wayne Sutter died May 7th of a heart attack, Candy Carlisle Derivaux,  a former Miss Mississippi contestant died in October at 40, and Leisa Collins in December.

"It's something that we've been trying to deal with and cope with about the last 6 months and the Lord's blessed us and taken care of us and helped us get through this," said David Blackledge, Executive Director of the Miss Mississippi Pageant.

Most of the contestants knew and worked closely with Sutter, Derivaux and Collins. It is an adjustment for everyone dealing with the void their deaths have created.

"Wayne loved this program, he was committed to it, he had worked with it about 15 years. Candy worked as stage manager, really committed to it, one of those volunteers we could always count on. Leisa Collins one of those volunteers just an unsung hero, behind the scenes type person," Blackledge said.

"Its gonna be difficult, I don't know what we're gonna do without them," said Sarah Beth James, Miss Mississippi 2010.

And this update on the contestants, Miss Coastal Waters, Caitlyn Smith who was 3rd runner up last year has withdrawn from the competition for personal reasons. We talked with her Sunday about the pageant.

"Young girls are struggling with a lot of issues, whether that be body image, whether it be confidence, and to see girls present themselves so well on stage and to have a role model and to see someone who cares so much about other people and about bettering themselves I think is inspirational for them," Smith said.

A second contestant, Miss Southwest Mississippi Community College, Shelby Smith is not competing due to illness. 43 remain. The first 15 will compete Wednesday Night in talent. That group includes a contestant who will play the steel drum, 8 singers, 3 dancers, and 3 who will play piano.

Shelby Smith, Miss Southwest Mississippi Community College was scheduled to compete in swimwear Wednesday night, and talent Thursday night. Caitlyn Smith, Miss Coastal Waters in evening wear and on stage question Wednesday night, and talent Friday night.

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