Marking its 71st competition, the Mississippi Miss Hospitality program will once again be held in Hattiesburg on Saturday, July 18. This year’s program will feature more than 35 contestants representing all regions of the state.
The health and safety of Mississippi Miss Hospitality participants has been the program’s top priority since the COVID-19 pandemic began. As a result, the State Office of Miss Hospitality has altered plans for this year’s program while still affording the opportunity for contestants to represent their communities in state competition.
Preliminary competition for the 2020 Mississippi Miss Hospitality Competition will now be held through digital and video conferencing platforms. Preliminary competition will take place on June 16 and 17 to include panel interview competition, Mississippi speech competition, and a review of contestants’ education, community involvement, and honors.
Based on preliminary competition results, an announcement of top ten contestants will be made in late June. These ten contestants will proceed to on-stage competition in Hattiesburg, which will be shared for statewide viewing on Saturday, July 18. Top ten contestants will compete in areas of community commercial, evening gown, and interview competition. The plan for on-stage competition may be modified to meet any gathering restrictions identified from the Governor’s Office or by local government officials.
All contestants will continue to serve their local communities to promote tourism and economic development, the platform of the Mississippi Miss Hospitality program. These industries have been tremendously hard hit by the pandemic, and local Miss Hospitality contestants have proven to serve as a shining light during trying times.
“Tourism is the front door to our state, and economic development is the backbone. For 71 years, the Mississippi Miss Hospitality program has championed these economic sectors while supporting the state’s best and brightest young women through a scholarship program,” Marlo Dorsey, executive director of VisitHATTIESBURG, said. “As our state struggles through the effects of this global pandemic, tourism and economic development will be key parts of Mississippi’s recovery. The role of Miss Hospitalities will be a positive part of our comeback story.”
Combined with its tourism and economic development platform, education has always been a top priority for the program. Mississippi’s Miss Hospitality 2020 must attend college in-state and will be provided with a full scholarship. New this year due to 2020 competition limitations caused by COVID-19, all contestants will be awarded a $250 college scholarship to further their education.
The young lady crowned 2020’s Mississippi Miss Hospitality will serve for a full year as the state’s official ambassador for economic development and tourism. Kasey Pearson was crowned 2019’s Mississippi Miss Hospitality last July. A native of Amory, Pearson is a 2020 graduate of The University of Mississippi and recently completed her first year at the university’s School of Pharmacy.
“Kasey has embraced her role during a very trying time for our state. As she completes her reign and a new Mississippi Miss Hospitality is crowned in July, this program will continue to serve as a catalyst to move Mississippi communities forward as tourism reopens across the state,” Kristen Brock, competition director for Mississippi Miss Hospitality, said. “While other programs are making the hard decision to postpone 2020 competition, we are thrilled that this longstanding Mississippi tradition can safely continue during a time when our platform matters most for the state.”
Local contestants have been actively engaged on social media, which is also featured on the State Program’s Facebook page using #MSGoodwill and #MSHosp2020. For more information on the competition, follow Mississippi Miss Hospitality on social media or visit misshospitality.com.
A program of VisitHATTIESBURG, the Mississippi Miss Hospitality Competition is presented by the Mississippi Development Authority, The University of Southern Mississippi, the City of Hattiesburg, Hattiesburg Saenger Theater, and Forrest General Hospital. Sponsorships and patrons allow the program to annually award more than $100,000 in scholarships and prizes to participants. Established in 1949, under Governor Fielding Wright and the Mississippi Legislature, the Mississippi Miss Hospitality Competition has been held for more than 70 years. Throughout this time, the program has championed the state’s tourism and economic development sectors while supporting Mississippi’s best and brightest young women through a robust scholarship program.