Contestants individuals, but some share a number of traits

Published 12:09 am Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pageant winners typically have a background in competing for crowns.

Whether they are repeat contestants from years past or have competed in the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, these girls are working hard to be the woman for the job of Miss Mississippi.

Of the 44 women in this year’s pageant, 17 are returning for at least their second try at the title. The remaining 27 are brand new contestants hitting the Miss Mississippi stage for the first time.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“We have a lot of new girls this year so it’s been a learning experience for the whole dressing room really,” backstage volunteer Michelle Coccaro said.

In recent years, the older, seasoned contestant has won it all. Only one contestant under the age of 20 has been crowned in the past eight years and only two in 27 years.

“It can be a very hard week for a new person,” Coccaro said.

Being a repeat contestant can give girls insight into what it takes to come out on top.

“I think experience,” backstage volunteer Johnna Riddick said. “Experience of being on the stage, being in front of the judges. I think getting one year under your belt gives you a lot of insight.”

Although anything could happen, she said one year could make all the difference because it’s hard to plan for the unknown.

“You can never fully be prepared for your first on-stage question,” Riddick said.

Each year new judges are looking for something different in the contestants to fill the role of Miss Mississippi, but state field director Winky Freeman said the judges use the same criteria when scoring.

“What they are typically looking for is the young lady who can best fill the job,” Freeman said.

Riddick said there is no one formula for a girl to follow to become the winner, because every year changes depending on the judges.

All contestants, however, do have a few things in common including their goals and aspirations.

“I think most all of the contestants are outstanding students, they participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, most of them are all involved in service projects and I think all of them desire to expand their platforms on a much larger level than what they are doing now,” Freeman said.