A new competition will give young women in South Mississippi a boost in their hopes for the Miss Mississippi title — and, perhaps, Miss America.
The Biloxi Lions Club has been given the green light to hold the first Miss Gulf Coast Pageant on March 31, in conjunction with the club’s long-running Mississippi Camellia Queen Pageant, said Jaye Brice, pageant chair. Contestants for Miss Gulf Coast will be between the ages of 18 and 24, and Camellia Queen contestants will be 15 to 17.
The new pageant will be a preliminary for the Miss Mississippi Pageant in Vicksburg, which is a preliminary for Miss America.
“Eighteen to 24 are the same ages as the requirement for the Miss America Pageant,” Brice said.
For at least two decades, Brice, a former Miss Biloxi, has been in charge of the Camellia Queen Pageant and has seen its winners do well in subsequent competitions.
“This is the 60th year for the Camellia Queen. So many of the winners compete in Miss Mississippi. Marie Wicks, who was Miss Mississippi (2012), is one example,” she said. “I had been thinking about getting a Miss Mississippi franchise pageant here, but for many years we’d been told you have to have a pageant with talent and swimsuit competitions.”
However, Brice recently learned that local pageants don’t have to include talent and swimsuit divisions, although the winner must be prepared to compete in those areas in Vicksburg for the statewide pageant. That changed everything.
For the March 31 pageant, which will be held at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, interviews will be held during the day with an evening gown competition that night.
“Both the Miss Gulf Coast and Camellia Queen winners will receive $500 scholarships,” she said. The Miss Mississippi Pageant will be held this summer.
Young women in the qualifying age ranges may contact Brice at 228-432-LION (5466) for more information and applications. Currently, there is no deadline for applications for Miss Gulf Coast.
“We are past due for our opportunity to have a representative,” Brice said. “In years past, we had a Miss Gulfport, Miss Biloxi — every city would be sending their own winner. Nowadays, there is so much interest in the pageants, and the young women are looking for local pageants.”