For some, holding the title of Miss Mississippi has been a lifelong dream, and for others, it’s a more recent goal they’ve set their minds to.
This weekend, 44 women from throughout Mississippi who have spent months preparing for a shot at that crown will make their way to Vicksburg to begin competition.
Six South Mississippi contestants are among those vying for the title, which also means a chance to represent their state in the Miss America pageant.
Preliminary competition begins Wednesday night and continues through Saturday, when the top 10 will be named and a winner will be chosen among that group.
Each night, contestants will be judged in private interview, talent, swimwear, evening wear and onstage question.
Miss New South Callie Brown of Lucedale knew from a young age she wanted to compete, and she’s returning as a second-year competitor this week.
“I’ve watched Miss Mississippi on TV since I was a toddler,” she said. “Last year was such an incredible experience that there was no doubt in my mind about wanting to compete again this year. I was awarded several thousand dollars in scholarship money, so I can’t wait to see what this year has in store.”
Miss Heart of Dixie Allison Judge of Ocean Springs also competed last year.
“I’ve learned in the last two years competing that the week of Miss Mississippi depends entirely on the attitude I have going into it,” she said. “This year, I’m hoping to have not only my best week of competition, but a lot of fun and a positive attitude throughout.”
Though she’s never competed in the pageant before, Miss Pine Belt Lizzie Wicks, also of Ocean Springs, is no stranger to the Miss Mississippi Organization. Her older sister, Marie Wicks, held the title of Miss Mississippi 2012.
“Watching Marie compete over the years and grow more confident and poised made an impact on me and fueled my own desire to be part of the Miss America Organization,” she said. “I realized what it means to be Miss Mississippi, to be a passionate advocate of the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, to be a role model for young girls, and to be a woman who excels in style, scholarship, service and success.”
Competing on a slightly smaller stage since she was 12, Miss Pearl River Valley Katelyn Perry of Gulfport has been involved with the Outstanding Teen Pageant, so she’s been around the organization for years.
“I truly am a product of this organization, and I’ve seen first-hand the impact Miss Mississippi has on our state,” she said. “Win or not, I’m a better person because of this program.”
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be representing the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Coast is where I grew up, it’s home and it’s family,” Perry said. “I’ve felt so loved and encouraged by the community as I’ve prepared for this experience, and I can’t thank everyone enough for the support.”
When asked what she’s learned so far from being in the Miss America program, Miss University of Southern Mississippi Kaelyn Wolfe of Picayune talked about personal growth.
“Becoming a better version of yourself is inevitable,” she said. “Not only is it inevitable with participation in this organization, but it is a process. It is a process that you have to believe and trust in that it is ongoing and not immediate.”
First-time competitor Miss Heartland Caitlin Olson of Gulfport said she’s probably going to wind up over-packing, but she’s definitely ready for the pageant.
“I’ve been preparing for talent most because I love to sing. I sang in choirs for nine years, and I love being able to tell stories with music,” she said.
Olson added that she’s honored to be representing the southern part of Mississippi.
“Gulfport is such a great city,” she said. “I know even if I don’t win Miss Mississippi, I’ll have Gulfport’s spectacular Southern cooking and seafood waiting for me when I return.”
If you go
The Miss Mississippi pageant begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday and continues through Saturday. It is held at the Vicksburg Convention Center, 1600 Mulberry St.
Saturday night’s competition will be broadcast locally on WLOX from 8-10 p.m.
South Mississippi Contestants
▪ Callie Brown of Lucedale, Miss New South
▪ Allison Judge of Ocean Springs, Miss Heart of Dixie
▪ Caitlin Olson of Gulfport, Miss Heartland
▪ Katelyn Perry of Gulfport, Miss Pearl River Valley
▪ Lizzie Wicks of Ocean Springs, Miss Pine Belt
▪ Kaelyn Wolfe of Picayune, Miss University of Southern Mississippi