Pageant hopefuls arrive in city today

Published 12:30 am Sunday, June 26, 2011

The 45 women who will compete for the Miss Mississippi 2011 crown arrive in the River City today, and the returning contestants will see a few changes.

“We’re doing the competition a different way,” said David Blackledge, chairman of the board of the Miss Mississippi Corporation and executive director of the pageant.

The changes deal with the judges and contestant interviews, which are not open to the public.

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“In the past,” Blackledge said, “the interviews with the girls have taken place on Tuesday morning, Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning. This year, the interview phase will start on Monday morning and continue on Tuesday morning and end Wednesday morning.”

The new schedule allows for 15 interviews per session, instead of the 30 that had been done on Tuesday.

“This way,” Blackledge said, “it keeps the judges fresh.”

Also, the judges orientation will be Sunday night instead of Monday.

One of the five judges on the panel will be Patrick House, the Vicksburg resident who won season 10 of NBC’s weight-loss reality show, “The Biggest Loser.”

Blackledge called House’s presence a “little twist.”

The other judges will be Jack Cooper, a member of the Miss Oklahoma Pageant board; actor David Weincek, whose credits include the movie “It’s Complicated” and ABC soap opera “One Life to Live”; Miss Mississippi 1995 Monica Louwerens Kenyon; and Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap.

For members of the public who would like to be a Miss Mississippi judge in 2012, a seminar led by Michael Jones, Miss Mississippi judges chairman, will be Saturday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Vicksburg Convention Center. The seminar is conducted every few years, as needed, pageant officials said.