Consider this interview a perk of my job

Published 11:31 pm Saturday, June 24, 2017

I remember the night Cheryl Prewitt was crowned Miss Mississippi like it was yesterday.

Growing up in Vicksburg, I have had the privilege of going to many Miss Mississippi Pageant competitions, but the night Cheryl was crowned was like none I had experienced before and quite honestly after.

At that time, the pageant was held at the Vicksburg City Auditorium, and in addition to the riser seats located all along the walls of the facility, the floor was packed with folding chairs, leaving only enough room for the runway and the orchestra pit. 

Back in those days there was live music, and although the Miss Mississippi Pageant sound crew does a phenomenal job, there is just something magical when the music is live.

My memory, I hate to say, failed me when it came to remembering the song Cheryl sang that night during the talent phase of the competition, until she reminded me in an interview I held with her on Friday.

But the recollection of the crowd’s reaction after she finished singing remains crystal clear.

The crowd went wild.

There was clapping and hollering, and people were even stomping their feet on the floor.

When it came to naming the new Miss Mississippi, Cheryl was left standing in the middle of the stage with the woman who was to become her first runner-up, and the crowd became even rowdier.

(Think field goal kicker making the kick that wins the game noisy.)

Cheryl Prewitt certainly deserved to wear the Miss Mississippi crown all those years ago. How fortunate for the state that she went on to become Miss America.

Now after more than 30 years, Cheryl has returned to the Miss Mississippi stage as mistress of ceremonies, and she is still wowing the crowds.

Her poise, sense of humor and astute awareness of each of the contestants has been the highlight of the pageant for me this year.

On Wednesday, during the talent phase of the competition, one of the contestants froze on stage.

I have never seen this happen before, but after the young woman exited the stage, Cheryl came back out with the contestant, hand in hand.

Prior to the performance, the contestant said in a video clip that it had been a dream of hers to twirl on the Miss Mississippi stage.

Cheryl made that happen for her by encouraging the audience to allow for a do-over.

The audience conveyed their approval with cheers and clapping, and in that moment a tear came to my eye.

In 1979, I had witnessed Cheryl arousing emotion with her voice, but on Wednesday her actions touched hearts.

What a wise decision the judges made all those years ago when they chose Cheryl as our Miss Mississippi as did the panel in Atlantic City who crowned her Miss America.

I feel honored I was allowed to interview this amazing woman, and I really hope she does not wait another 30 or so years to return to Vicksburg.

Terri Cowart Frazier is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You can reach her at terri.frazier@vicksburgpost.com.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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