Out-of-state pageant contestants find Mississippi as their new home

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Vying for the title of Miss Mississippi does not always mean one has to have been born and raised here.

Just ask the seven Miss Mississippi Pageant contestants who all hail from outside the Magnolia State.

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

“You say we live out of state, but I think we (the seven out-of-state- contestants) would all agree, since we all attend schools in Mississippi, we live here,” Miss Vicksburg Blair Wortsmith said.

Miss Fairpark Grace McClanahan agreed with Wortsmith and added, “I am originally from Arkansas, but I have spent all of my time, since I have started attending Ole Miss, in Oxford. I have spent summers in Oxford, and I plan to live there after I graduate,” McClanahan said.

Miss Delta Hannah Oliver said she too, spends most of her time in Mississippi.

“I am originally from Arkansas and I go to Mississippi State and spend 95 percent of my time in Mississippi,” Oliver said. “And it would be so hard to go back to Arkansas all the time to make appearances, to compete and go to meetings, so it is just so much easier to compete here, and my heart is here and this place has become home,” she said.

For someone out of state to compete, first for a local title, the executive secretary of the Miss Mississippi Pageant Board Earl Edris said, there are certain conditions that first must be met before a woman can compete.

The criteria includes claiming residency six months prior to competing in a first pageant and, Edris said, the women must be full time students at a Mississippi school.

They must have also completed one semester or 12 hours of college credit at the school, Edris said, and it had to have occurred on location.

“It can’t be through online classes,” he said.

Prior to competing in the Miss Mississippi Pageant, Miss Spirit of the South Emma Caroline Gaddy said, she held an Alabama title, while a student at a Mississippi school and said it was difficult.

“I felt absolutely torn because I knew it was the people in Mississippi who were shaping me and because of my three and a half years in Mississippi, I am 100 percent sure of who I am supposed to be,” Gaddy said.

Miss Starkville Mary Elizabeth Killian’s hometown is Hoover, Alabama, and she said the people of Mississippi have made it easy for her to transition into competing for the state title.

“I competed in the outstanding teen in Alabama, but it was something about being here and being a part of this organization and being on this stage. I felt like I had a true connection with the people here and being able to represent them in a way, it is just absolutely amazing,” Killian said.

Working at a Mississippi news station has allowed Miss Magnolia Christana Landress, who was originally from Georgia, the opportunity to experience some of Mississippi’s culture first hand.   

“Just being involved in different communities around the state of Mississippi has prepared me personally to take on the title of Miss Mississippi,” Landress said, adding, “I have also gained new friends in the community and memories that will end up lasting a lifetime.”

“When we were little, we all probably dreamed of becoming Miss America,” Miss Belle of the Bayou Emily O’Rear said. “We may not have dreamed of being Miss Mississippi, but for me, as soon as I stepped foot in Mississippi and started attending Mississippi State, I felt at home.”

And while all of the out-of-state-contestants think of Mississippi as their home now, serving as a representative has had its challenges.

McClanahan said just speaking at schools about one’s platform might be less simple just because of connections. It was easier in your hometown, she said, because you knew people to call, but here it takes a lot more effort to set up the appearances and events to promote yourself across the state. But even though it may take a little more effort, McClanahan said, it was worth it. 

“In the end, you wind up meeting and doubling your network or people, because you have your home state supporters and your new Mississippi family.”

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.’

email author More by Terri Cowart