Miss Mississippi 2001: Hugs, lessons greet pageant contestants

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 9, 2001

Miss Mississippi Christy May, right, greets Miss Dixie Kim Blackwell Sunday morning during pageant registration at the Vicksburg Convention Center. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[07/09/01] For this year’s 39 Miss Mississippi hopefuls, the quest for the crown began early Sunday morning as the contestants arrived at the Vicksburg Convention Center for their first day of pageant preparation.

The young women from around the state made their way through the registration line, got hugs from Miss Mississippi 2000 Christy May and made their way to their first official pageant function of Miss Mississippi 2001, an orientation session.

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“I thought this week would never get here,” said Miss Jones County Beth Richards. “In the past, I’ve been a little nervous but this year, I was ready.”

This is Richards’ fourth run at the coveted crown and she knows what the upcoming days have in store for the contestants.

“You’re constantly doing rehearsals and you really don’t get much sleep,” she said. “But the first night of competition is great. It makes it all worth it in the end.

“The first year, it was just overwhelming,” she said. “But, each year it gets easier and easier, and each year it gets more and more exciting.”

And overwhelmed was the word to describe Miss Mississippi Pageant freshman Allison Kite, who is representing Mississippi College. Kite, 17, is the pageant’s youngest competitor. She said she doesn’t know what to expect from the upcoming week but is a little apprehensive about the parade and public appearances. As for the pageant itself, she said she’s not nervous at all.

“I know that seems kind of backwards, but the competition just seems easier to me,” she said.

“I feel honored to be here. I’m glad to get started early,” she said. “I’m just here to have a good time. I think I add a little freshness to it.”

Another newcomer to the pageant scene at Sunday morning’s activities was Mayor Laurence Leyens. Leyens, who gave a brief speech during the contestants’ orientation session, said he thinks the pageant is an under-used asset for Vicksburg and would like to see it grow.

“Next year, I would like to make a bigger deal about hosting it and attract a little more tourism with it,” he said. “If you’re going to host this major event, why not make a big deal out of it?

“It’s an honor to host this,” he said. “There are plenty of other cities that would love to get this from us.”