New producers set tone for Miss Mississippi Competition

Published 8:36 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

Contestants will be making their way to Vicksburg this weekend, as the countdown begins for finding out who will be crowned the 2024 Miss Mississippi. And while the contestants have been preparing for the competition, two newcomers have been working diligently to get ready for the production. Ashley Thompson and Amy Campbell will be serving as this year’s Miss Mississippi producers.

Thompson, a former Miss Mississippi contestant, became involved with the Miss Mississippi Organization shortly after she became ineligible to compete.

“When I aged out of the competition, I felt a void and knew that I didn’t want my time with the organization to be over,” Thompson said. “In 2010, I emailed David Blackledge (Miss Mississippi executive director) and expressed a desire to volunteer. I think I told him I would sweep the floors if it meant that I could continue to be part of the organization.”

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Through her years of service to the organization, Thompson said she has worked with in-kind scholarships, sponsorships and helped prepare the reigning Miss Mississippi and Miss Mississippi’s Teen for their respective national competitions. And now she is taking on the role of co-producer.

Campbell, a Vicksburg resident, has been involved with costume design for the production for several years. She also has deep family ties to the Miss Mississippi Organization. Her mother-in-law Carole is a long-time Miss Mississippi hostess. Blackledge is her mother-in-law’s brother; her husband’s cousins, Laura Kidder and Lindsey Blackledge, also volunteer.

Fortunately, Thompson and Campbell will have some assistance in their new roles. Kandace Williams Peppers, who was crowned Miss Mississippi in 1992, is serving as the artistic director for the production and 2003 Miss Mississippi Ali Kellogg is the choreographer/director. Both Peppers and Kellogg assisted with last year’s production.

The theme of this year’s show is “Dance the Night Away.”

“We are celebrating our current Miss Mississippi Vivian O’Neal who is a dancer,” and by doing so are showcasing all forms of dance with “incredible music,” Thompson said. “From Motown dances to hip hop and ballroom, the hope is the audience will be dancing in their seats.”

The theme, as well as all other decisions concerning the production of the Miss Mississippi Competition, Thompson said, have been a collaborative effort by Campbell, Peppers, Kellogg and herself.

“The four of us have made every decision as a team,” she said, adding, “Amy has such a gift for seeing a vision and working through the wardrobe and set to enhance the vision. She’s 100 percent responsible for the juke box you all will see on stage. Peppers has been the driving force behind what you see and hear on the stage.” Thompson said Kellog brings her dance expertise.

The master and mistress of ceremonies for the four nights of competition are Cheryl Prewitt Salem and Jonathan Brannan.

“We are thrilled to have Miss Mississippi 1979 and Miss America 1980 Cheryl Prewitt Salem and Jonathan Brannan back as co-hosts,” Thompson said. “Cheryl was here in 2017 and Jonathan has been a staple in the Miss Mississippi production since 2015.”

Also on stage as performers are Taylor McCarter, who Thompson said was the only person in Miss Mississippi history to receive a standing ovation after her talent performance, and Miss Mississippi 2008 Christine Kozlowski Merrill.

“We love incorporating former local titleholders and state winners on the stage,” she said. “It is such a testament to the wonderful talent we have in Mississippi and the incredible women who have competed on this stage.”

With the competition just days away, Thompson said she is excited to not only see the production come to life, but also to watch the contestants “shine on stage.”

The Miss Mississippi Competition preliminaries will be held at 7 p.m. June 5, 6 and 7 at the Vicksburg Convention Center, 1600 Dr. Briggs Hopson Blvd. The final round of competition and crowning will begin at 8 p.m. June 8.

Tickets are $40 for Wednesday’s and Thursday’s preliminaries; $50 for Friday’s preliminaries and Saturday’s final round of competition, or $150 for all four competitions. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 601-638-6746.

Other events scheduled include: Beginning at 7 p.m. June 3, a Miss Mississippi parade will roll along Washington Street, followed by an autograph party at The Mulberry Vicksburg.

Autograph parties will also be held at 10 a.m. June 5 at Kirk Chevrolet, formerly Atwood, and at 10 a.m. June 6 at various shops along Washington Street.

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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