Miss Mississippi’s Teen competition shined over weekend

Published 10:12 am Wednesday, April 24, 2024

After nearly 20 years in the newspaper business, I thought I had covered almost everything, but this weekend’s Miss Mississippi’s Teen competition proved me wrong.

I’ll be honest, going into the weekend’s three rounds of competition, I assumed I would sit through the show, snap some photos at the right times, match names with faces after the fact, and that would be the extent of it. But, as Saturday afternoon turned into Saturday evening, something curious happened: I got into it.

Before I knew it, I was tapping my foot along to the songs, tensing up during complicated gymnastic moves, and hoping for strong answers to tough onstage questions. By Sunday afternoon, I was as sure as anyone else there that I knew who would take home the crown.

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I won’t get into whether or not I was correct, but I will say it could have gone about 21 different ways and would have been well-deserved each time. These girls were impressive!

Just during the talent portion of this weekend’s competition alone, you had to take notice of what the state of Mississippi had sent Vicksburg’s way in the form of representation. These young ladies played piano, displayed beautiful voices, did amazing dance, tap, and interpretive routines and, for lack of a better term, just showed out.

Miss Vicksburg’s Teen Addie Grace Clay’s offering added a poignant and emotional moment to the weekend, as she recounted her recovery from a traumatic brain injury in 2021 that left her in a coma for four days. Her presence on the stage, as well as her advancement into the final 11 contestants, was an amazing testimony to the power of the human spirit and I’m not ashamed to say I had to do some pretty fast blinking during the more emotional portions.

When it was all said and done, Miss Pine Belt’s Teen Brooke Bumgarner took home this year’s crown and I think it’s safe to say every one of us in the Ardis T. Williams Sr. Auditorium felt like we had been on a journey.

The Miss Mississippi’s Teen organization has a mission statement that vows to “encourage positive achievements by helping to nurture and build the scholastic achievement, creative accomplishment, healthy living and community involvement of our state’s youth.”

I know we live in a day and age when these kinds of competitions find themselves under increased scrutiny, but let me say this: If this weekend was any indication, the organization is living up to that very commendable mission and we should all be proud of how our young ladies are stepping up to embody those admirable qualities. And Vicksburg should be proud to call itself home to such a wonderful display of talent, civic responsibility, and commitment to excellence.

Now I can’t wait to see the Miss Mississippi competition in June. I hope to see you all there in just a few weeks!

Blake Bell is the general manager and executive editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at blake.bell@vicksburgpost.com