Vicksburg, Fulton women take 2nd night

Published 11:28 am Friday, June 29, 2012

A hometown rookie and a four-time veteran won preliminaries Thursday night in the second round of competition at the annual Miss Mississippi pageant at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

Miss University of Southern Mississippi Grace Claire Cordes, a 20-year-old from Vicksburg, won in talent and Miss Natchez Trace Chelsea Rick, a 22-year-old from Fulton, took the swimsuit portion.

Cordes performed the Italian aria “Sempre Libera.”

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Cordes said she had worked hard with her voice teacher and researched the music and now feels her hard work has paid off.

She is studying vocal performance and music education at the University of Southern Mississippi and will receive a $300 scholarship.

For the second consecutive year, Rick won the swimsuit preliminary in a black two piece.

Rick, who competed as Miss Historic Crossroads in 2009, Miss Alcorn County in 2010 and Miss Metro Jackson in 2011, said that it felt amazing when they called her name. “You expose yourself so much when you walk out on the stage in a swimsuit,” she said. She will receive a $200 scholarship for her win.

Rick is a graduate of Millsaps College and plans to attend medical school.

Cordes and Rick join Wednesday night’s preliminary winners in a lineup as all 42 women head into the final night of preliminaries tonight and the crowning Saturday night in a televised show.

Wednesday night’s preliminary winners were Miss Mississippi State University Stephanie Stanford, 21, from Grenada, who won the talent portion of the competition, and Miss West Central Mississippi Breanne Ponder, 22, from Mount Olive, who won the swimsuit preliminary.

Each of the contestants’ preliminary scores in talent, swimwear and questions, including on-stage and off-stage interviews, will combine to make a composite score, which will determine the top 10 finalists, whose names will be announced at the beginning of the Saturday night show.

The top 10 will compete in every category except for private interview Saturday.

The composite score is 30 percent for the overall score; talent, 30; evening wear, 20; and swimwear, 20.

On the second night of the 55th year of competition in Vicksburg, the memory of former Mayor John D. Holland was honored with a plaque given by Dr. Briggs Hopson, the longtime executive director of the pageant who stepped down a few years ago.

The plaque was presented to the children of Holland, who died at his Jackson home in May.

A $1,000 scholarship will be handed out to honor Holland, credited with securing the pageant for Vicksburg after it had moved from city to city.