YEAR 61: Vicksburg is home for Miss Mississippi Pageant - - Jackson, MS

YEAR 61: Vicksburg is home for Miss Mississippi Pageant

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
VICKSBURG, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

River queens and beauty queens, visitors in Vicksburg will keep an eye out for both this week.

Vicksburg has many nicknames: The Gibraltar of America, Red Carpet City of the South and The Key to the South. But one thing most people know it as is 'home to the Miss Mississippi Pageant.'

Last year, the pageant celebrated 60 years of being in Vicksburg. It has been home to the pageant since 1958.

This year makes year 61 of the pageant being in Vicksburg, but it got it's start in Biloxi in 1934. Since then, the pageant has grown into a major production.

"Well it just seems like we just finished the 60th and obviously we're at number 61 this year, but as soon as we finish this pageant we'll go ahead and start working on the one for next year," said David Blackledge, board chairman and executive director. "So it is a year round planning process."

Blackledge is the executive director of the Miss Mississippi Corporation. It is big business, but the whole thing is run, organized and operated by volunteers.

"We have 50 people that volunteer on a regular basis," Blackledge explained. "Our pageant staff as we call them, we have about 35 hostesses that take care of the contestants when they come here for the entire week. So we have a lot of people working on this."

Miss Mississippi has led the nation in providing scholarships for the young women who participate.

Many of the contestants now say they have been able to complete their education without owing any out-of-pocket expenses.

It's the scholarship dollars that mean the world to me, living in a single parent home," said Miss Tupelo Asya Branch. "My mom doesn't have the highest income and I have several siblings, so you know its definitely a bonus to have my education paid for."

Miss University told us, "I have won over $10,000 in the past 3 years competing and that contributes a lot when you start looking at your bursar account and you see how much you owe to go to school," said Miss University Charley Ann Nix.

This year there are 49 contestants competing for the Miss Mississippi crown. They come from all over the state and must win a local pageant before they take the stage in Vicksburg.

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