Pageant contestants due in Vicksburg today

Published 11:08 pm Saturday, June 23, 2012

The 42 women competing to take home the crown from the 55th Miss Mississippi pageant in Vicksburg were set to make their debut this morning with a gathering at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

The winner among the women representing geographical locations and colleges and universities from across the state will compete in the 2013 Miss America competition in January.

This morning, the contestants were to sign up and get final marching orders from pageant directors and coordinators.

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The contest begins in earnest Monday with contestant closed-door interviews. Wednesday is the first of three nights of preliminary competitions at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

The crowning will come Saturday night and will be televised live by WLBT Channel 3.

In addition, the contestants will be featured in a parade on Washington Street through downtown Monday night, autograph parties, an awards ball after the crowning and a judge’s workshop.

David Blackledge, executive director of the Miss Mississippi 2012 pageant, said the winner will be chosen by five judges who will rank contestants in private interviews and on-stage talent and swimsuit-modeling competitions.

Blackledge, who has worked with the pageant for 20 years, said one of this year’s judges is Miss Mississippi 1980 Donna Pope.

As Miss Mississippi, Pope won a Miss America contest preliminary competition in the swimsuit category and finished as second runner-up to Miss America Susan Powell. Pope and her husband live in Brentwood, Tenn.

Also serving as judges are Dr. Susan Shea from Springfield., Mal M. Matthews from Jackson, Tenn., Glenn Dupree from Baton Rouge and Dennis Moyer from Hawaii.

Blackledge said all five are seasoned veterans of the Miss America Pageant.