Vicksburg, Miss Mississippi are a really good pair

Published 3:33 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Well. I learned a lot this week, to put it mildly. I’ve covered a pretty wide array of events over my career in newspapers, but a statewide competition like Miss Mississippi was a first. And while it’s the first of what I hope will be many for me here at The Post, I know I’ll never forget this initial experience with the weeklong affair in Vicksburg.

Back in April, I was able to cover the Miss Mississippi’s Teen competition and I have to say, I enjoyed it more than I expected I would. You just can’t help but pretty quickly become invested in the journeys these amazing contestants are on. And with Miss Mississippi, and the stakes being even higher, the level of interest just gets ramped up that much more.

And it wasn’t just me getting sucked into the literal pageantry of it all. My son Colin is out of school for the summer and, being just 10, can’t spend the day at home alone. So he often gets dragged all over town for any newspaper coverage that isn’t dangerous. Now, he’s used to that and has always been a trooper, but for Miss Mississippi, he didn’t seem to mind. And I know what you’re thinking: A 10-year-old boy at Miss Mississippi. Why would he mind? Well. Dad isn’t quite ready to think about any of that, but Colin was absolutely taken by the talent and spectacle of it all, as much as by the beautiful contestants. By the final night, he had his own top-five prediction loaded up and ready to go. And the kid was close!

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

But, as impressive as the delegates, the show itself, and all of the incredible people that make it happen were, it was just as much fun to see everyone around town open up their businesses and homes to the week’s events. From autograph parties at Kirk Brothers Chevrolet of Vicksburg and numerous downtown spots, to after parties at the homes of people like Lori Fagan and husband Dr. David Fagan, Vicksburg’s famous Southern hospitality was on full display. And, even though I’m a transplant to the River City, it made me really proud to call Vicksburg home.

As I said, I learned a lot this week. For example, Stephen Prager, who was one of the first people I met when I first moved to this area way back in 2014, somehow finds time to be involved in everything, it seems. Ten years ago, he was helping revive the Rotary Club in Tallulah – which is how our paths crossed. Last week, while he was serving as an usher at Miss Mississippi, he gave me a quick history lesson about how Vicksburg became the host city after first welcoming the competition to town in 1958. I learned how that year, as well as the next, the eventual Miss Mississippi went on to become Miss America and the competition never left the River City. That’s a cool story.

And I heard so many more cool stories throughout the course of the week. Too many to recount here without jumping this column to another page. But I easily could go on and on about my experiences last week. The point is: I can see why Vicksburg has been the home to the Miss Mississippi competition for nearly 70 years. It’s one thing to attract such a prestigious annual event to your city; it’s a much different thing to host it so well that it stays for almost seven decades. Wow.

And there’s so much more I still want to know about Miss Mississippi and its impact on Vicksburg. And we’ll definitely be writing stories about its economic impact and other important factors involved in its relationship with our city in the coming days and weeks. But for now, let me just say after my first year covering the competition that it is obvious why Miss Mississippi chose to call Vicksburg home, and it’s even more clear why it has chosen to stay here. From all of the people that work year-round to make the competition possible, to the ones that actually make it happen when it’s go-time, to just the awesome level of local support, that reason is all of you.

Blake Bell is the general manager and executive editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at