The Meridian Star
The Meridian/Lauderdale County Miss Hospitality Pageant is set for March 1 at the historic Temple Theatre in downtown Meridian.
The mission of the Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant is to identify, honor and utilize young ladies between the ages of 18 and 24 for the purpose of promoting Mississippi's tourism, industry, and economic development internally and externally by serving as the state's goodwill ambassador.
Since 1949, the Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant has celebrated the intelligent and gracious qualities of young women across the state.
Contestants must have a residence in Meridian or Lauderdale County, they will compete where they reside not where they go to school, never been married and do not have children. They must also be pursuing a higher education and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.
In July 2013, Hailey Thomas, representing Meridian, and Alyssa Griffin, representing Lauderdale County, participated in the Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant in Hattiesburg.
"And Hailey won," said Penny Randall, Meridian/Lauderdale County Miss Hospitality director. "We have not had a winner from this area since Suzanne Paul won in 1952. Hailey brought the crown home to Meridian and has done an outstanding job as Mississippi's Miss Hospitality while maintaining a 4.0 GPA at the University of Mississippi. She is an amazing young lady who we are thrilled to have as a representative. We are also very proud of Alyssa who is now a student at Meridian Community College majoring in nursing."
Thomas and Griffin will both be on hand to crown their successors, who will not only learn how to promote their community, but also make new friends and future contacts.
In the local completion, contestants will participate in:
• Panel interview with three judges: Contestants will answer questions about world affairs, state and local politics, and their views on how to promote tourism in Mississippi and their ambitions and personal interests.
• Commercial/Black Dress Competition: Contestants will model a black cocktail dress during which the contestant will present an original 20-second commercial promoting their city or county.
• Evening Gown Competition: Contestants will model a floor-length evening gown of any color on stage.
In 2013, 40 young ladies from across Mississippi competed for scholarships and prizes totaling more than $100,000. The winners of the Meridian/Lauderdale County pageant will receive a one year tuition scholarship to Meridian Community College. The first alternates will each receive a half-year tuition scholarship to MCC.
"The Meridian/Lauderdale County Miss Hospitality Pageant is sponsored by Visit Meridian Tourism," Randall said. "We are so thankful for their support and the support of the Jimmie Rodgers Foundation who we partner with on March 1 to also hold the Jimmie Rodgers Pageant for girls 4-17. These two pageants both promote the heritage of tourism and entertainment in Meridian and Lauderdale County."
The two winners from the local pageant will compete at the Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant July 25-26.
The registration fee for Miss Hospitality is $25, which includes an official pageant T-shirt.
For more information about the Meridian/Lauderdale County Miss Hospitality Program contact, Penny Randall at (601) 481-5712. Information can also be found on Facebook at Jimmie Rodgers Pageant.