VICKSBURG -- It was a dream come true when Stella Ford's name was called as Miss Mississippi's Outstanding Teen 2016.
"This is one of my biggest dreams; I couldn't believe it," Ford said immediately after she was crowned at the pageant Saturday night.
Ford, a 17-year-old from Brandon, won the title of Miss Southern Grace's Outstanding Teen in October and has since been preparing for the state pageant in Vicksburg, which has been held every summer since 2005.
Beginning Thursday night with preliminary competitions, 24 girls between the ages of 13 and 17 competed in the evening wear/onstage question, talent and lifestyle and fitness categories. At the Thursday and Friday preliminaries, winners were named in talent and evening wear/onstage question. On Saturday night, the top 10 were announced based on their preliminary scores.
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Ford, who won the talent preliminary on Friday night, sang the Etta James classic "At Last."
"It was my grandfather's favorite song," Ford said, adding that she's been taking voice lessons for a few months but has been singing for a while.
First alternate was Miss Meridian's Outstanding Teen Liz Sprabery; second alternate was Miss Magnolia's Outstanding Teen Farrah Cox; third alternate was Miss Vicksburg's Outstanding Teen Julieanna Jackson; and fourth alternate was Miss All-American City's Outstanding Teen GraceAnne Kennedy.
Rounding out the top 10 were Miss Mid-South's Outstanding Teen Rachel Shumaker, Miss Dixie's Outstanding Teen Jordan Markham, Miss Jones County's Outstanding Teen Breana Kelley, Miss Heart of the South's Outstanding Teen Maisie Brown.
Other top 10 talents included dancing on pointe, playing the piano, clogging and speed painting.
In addition to taking home the crown and the title of Miss Mississippi's Outstanding Teen, Ford was the winner of a $5,000 scholarship provided by the Miss Mississippi Corp.
Contestants from the South Mississippi area included Miss Leaf River Valley's Outstanding Teen Isabella Rubenstein, a student at Ocean Springs High School, and Miss Tri-County's Outstanding Teen Megan Allen, a student at Long Beach High School.
Ford will represent the state at the Miss America's Outstanding Teen competition, which is set for Aug. 2-4 in Orlando, Fla.
The outstanding teen pageant is under the umbrella of the Miss America Organization and the Miss Mississippi Corp. Preliminaries for the Miss Mississippi pageant will begin June 22 in Vicksburg.