Pageant directors play key role in Miss Mississippi

Published 7:08 pm Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The precursor for any contestant who competes in the Miss Mississippi Pageant is first to win a local title.

These pageants are offered throughout the state and are sponsored by local directors.

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Bo Miller serves as the local director for the Miss Amory Pageant and this year has been recognized as the Director of the Year.

“I have been doing this a long time,” Miller said.

“I directed my first local pageant in 1979, which was the year Cheryl Prewitt won Miss Mississippi and went on to win Miss America, and after that I just got hooked,” he said.

In addition to serving as the director for the Miss Amory Pageant, Miller also oversees the Miss Monroe County Pageant and the Miss Spirit of the South Pageant.

“Alana McGonagill and Leslie Valsamakis are the directors of the Miss Monroe County Pageant and Michael Thornton and Denise Rone are directors for the Miss Spirit of the South Pageant. We call ourselves the Amory group we work together on all of them,” Miller said.

Preparation a big deal

The biggest job of any local director, Miller said, is to prepare their titleholder for the Miss Mississippi Pageant, which includes doing mock interviews, clothing selections and talent rehearsals.

The Miss Amory Pageant, Miss Monroe County Pageant and the Miss Spirit of the South Pageant are all held on the same day and are considered open pageants, Miller said.

An open pageant, “Miller explained is one that allows anyone who would be eligible to compete for the Miss America title to compete.

“Like my Miss Spirit of the South, she is from Moulton, Alabama, but goes to school at Ole Miss,” Miller said.

Years ago, the Miss Amory Pageant was a closed pageant, Miller said, but now that it is open, he said, he appreciates the change.

“I like this change because it has opened up for more girls to get to Vicksburg,” he said.

Most local pageants are now considered open pageants except for those that are school pageants, where those competing must be students at the respective schools.

The “Amory group,” Miller said, holds all three of their pageants on the same night.

“We hold the pageants in November, so we have had a pretty good length of time to help them prepare,” Miller said, for the state title.

And after a winner is crowned in Vicksburg, Miller said, the “Amory group” returns home to begin preparations for next year’s local pageants.

Serving as a local pageant director is a volunteer job, but it can consume a great deal of one’s time.

“For me, it has become a year round job,” Miller said, adding he considers being a pageant director as his hobby.

“I don’t play golf. I don’t hunt or fish, this is what I do.”

Some of Miller’s highlights during his years of service have included serving as a judge for state pageants.

“I had the opportunity to judge two state pageants. I got to judge Miss Idaho in 2015 and Miss Utah in 2016 and those were incredible experiences,” he said.

Miller’s dedication to the pageant has spanned nearly four decades and he still advocates strongly for the Miss America Organization.

“It is a great program, and I have seen the pageant evolve from it being just a beauty contest,” he said, to focusing on more than just someone having a pretty face.

“These girls are smart, driven, talented young women, and I wish everybody could know the sides of them we know,” Miller said.

Last year, the Miss America Organization upped the age limit for contestants from 24 to 25 and Miller said he liked the change, but admitted he was disappointed with the decision this year to do away with the swimsuit competition.   

He said to him, that phase of the competition was not just about looking good, “It was about a lifestyle.”

Although this modification is drawing some controversy, Miller said, he feels confident that Miss America will be around for years to come.

“This program will succeed and thrive. It is an American tradition. Miss America is an icon,” Miller said.

“I love this program very much and I feel like I have given it my heart and soul It is just a good program I wish every girl could experience this,” he said.

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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