Virus postpones Miss America, Miss Mississippi competitions, current Miss Mississippi to reign another year

Published 9:58 pm Friday, May 8, 2020

Friday, the Miss America Organization announced it was postponing its annual competition to late in 2021.

This will mark the first time since the competition returned in 1935 that it will be postponed. Concerns and restrictions connected to the spread of the COVID-19 virus forced the decision.

“As we all know, this moment in our history is one that will change the course of many programs, businesses and institutions, and the Miss America Organization is not alone in navigating these challenges,” Miss America Organization board Chairwoman Shantel Krebs said. “At this time, as an organization, our greatest concern is to make sure the thousands of people who are involved in or volunteer for our program are safe. This coming year will be our 100th anniversary for this iconic American institution, and we want to make sure that we take the time to ensure our annual broadcast and the surrounding experiences reflect our time-honored tradition.”

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Also, organizers with the Miss Mississippi Corporation announced there will not be an Outstanding Teen or Miss Mississippi Competition this year. The Outstanding Teen pageant will return in April 2021, while the next Miss Mississippi Competition will be held in June 2021.

“This is a relief,” Miss Mississippi Corporation board chairman David Blackledge said. “After postponing and postponing, trying to make things happen, it just got to a point where it was time to say ‘let’s move forward.’

“Everybody has been in limbo for so long and we were continuing to stay in limbo,” he said, “And it was time to make a final decision and I commend them (Miss America Organization) for a decision. They have been very diligent and wise in going through this process.”

By postponing the competition until 2021, Miss Mississippi Mary Margaret Hyer will remain Miss Mississippi.

“Miss America said we could contact our state titleholders and see if they were willing or could serve another year,” Blackledge said, adding that Hyer agreed.

As with Miss Mississippi, Blackledge said, local titleholders will also have the opportunity to stay on, and for those who would be aging out this year, the Miss America Corporation is extending the age limit by one year.

New dates for the Miss Mississippi Competition are scheduled for June 23-26, 2021. The new date for the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen will be April 23-25, 2021.

The shockwaves of Friday’s announcements by the Miss America Organization and the Miss Mississippi Corporation were felt all the way to downtown Vicksburg, where many retailers enjoy peak sales around the time of the Miss Mississippi and teen pageants.

It is also another hit to Vicksburg’s tourism economy that had already been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we are disappointed that we won’t be welcoming the participants, their families, and supporters to Vicksburg, the safety of our visitors is our biggest priority,” Vicksburg Visitors and Convention Bureau executive director Laura Beth Strickland said. “We look forward to the 2021 competition.”

According to data from the Vicksburg Convention Center, the venue that plays host to the annual Miss Mississippi and teen pageants, the Miss Mississippi Competition alone means more than $2.3 million to Vicksburg’s economy.