Merchants spruce up for Miss Mississippi Pageant

Published 7:21 pm Friday, June 15, 2018

By John Surratt and Brandon O’Connor

The Vicksburg Post

The 61st edition of the Miss Mississippi Pageant gets underway June 20, but Vicksburg’s Downtown Association and Main Street Vicksburg programs are getting ready in advance for the preliminary events that will mark the annual event.

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“We’ll be putting a fresh coat of paint on the crowns in the streets, and the merchants are getting goodie bags ready for the moms of the contestants,” said Kim Hopkins, Main Street executive director. “The merchants are gearing up for the pageant; it’s going to be a fun week; an exciting week.”

She said the bags for the contestants’ mothers will include some items unique to Vicksburg.

“We will also be hanging some banners downtown and freshen up and sprucing up the downtown area for the parade,” Hopkins said.

Two downtown events will precede the pageant, with the 7 p.m. parade June 18, followed by an autograph party at 10:30 a.m. June 21 with contestants at different stores signing autographs.

“We are getting ready for the parade,” Hopkins said. “We have cars coming in every day, but we are still need more convertibles, and if anyone has a convertible and would like to drive for the parade they are welcome.”

The downtown merchants are also working to get ready for one of their busiest weeks of the year. With 49 contestants, 150 princesses and princes and all their families coming to town, Karen Ruggles, who owns Cinnamon Tree, said they see a noticeable change in the number of patrons coming through.

“We are all ready,” Ruggles said. “I think it (the extra traffic) is considerable.”

Ruggles said they have added pageant themed decorations in the front windows and inside. Her store and The Dragonfly, owned by Shanon Shealy, have brought in pageant themed merchandise for all the visitors.

“We always try to get stocked up on anything crown related to get ready and prepared for all the extra people coming into town associated with the pageant,” Shealy said. “We are hosting two girls for the autograph party that will be downtown. We see a lot of extra people in town and a lot of extra foot traffic.”

Jay Parmegiani, who owns 10 South and Roca restaurants and Jacque’s bar downtown, said the pageant week is “absolutely” one of his busiest of the year.

“I love it. Can’t wait,” Parmegiani said of pageant week. “It is a huge, huge boon. Last year, I reopened Roca right on that week and I can chalk some of that up to reopening, but I could tell by the clientele and the crowd that it was a lot of pageant folk early in the evening.”