TOP 10 ANNOUNCED FOR 71st ANNUAL MISSISSIPPI MISS HOSPITALITY COMPETITION
The Top 10 finalists for the 71st Mississippi Miss Hospitality Competition were announced via Facebook Live following two days of virtual preliminary competition. The Jay Slaughter Memorial Scholarship top three speech winners were also announced.
Narrowed down from thirty-six outstanding contestants, Top 10 finalists for the 71st Mississippi Miss Hospitality Competition are: McKay Lee Bray representing Greene County, Callie Farris representing Hattiesburg, Cailin Sims representing Jackson County, Rondaisha Henry representing Jasper County, Reagan Todd representing Laurel, Aly Floyd representing Lincoln County, Ivy Jordan representing New Albany, Andrea Berryhill representing Panola County, Ramsey Sanders representing Pike County, and Kassidy Young representing Pontotoc County.
These ten contestants will proceed to on-stage competition in Hattiesburg, which will be open to a small audience and shared for statewide digital viewing on Saturday, July 18. Top 10 contestants will compete in areas of community commercial, evening gown, and interview competition. 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 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 program was held through digital and video conferencing platforms on June 16-17, and included panel interview competition, Mississippi Speech competition, a review of contestants’ education, community involvement, and honors, and an overall impression component. Results from these areas of competition, evaluated by an independent tabulator, determined the Top 10 finalists who will continue to on-stage competition.
The Mississippi Speech portion of preliminary competition is an additional scholarship opportunity provided by the program. Named after longtime Mississippi Miss Hospitality board member, the late Jay Slaughter, this scholarship recognizes the top three scoring contestants in speech competition. This year’s Jay Slaughter Memorial Speech Scholarship recipients are Gabrielle Taylor representing Leakesville, Cailin Sims representing Jackson County, and Jennifer Gray representing Jackson. These winners will present their speeches during competition weekend.
“Learning a new platform through virtual competition was a challenge for us all, but we are confident these contestants are walking away with just one more life skill developed through this program,” Kristen Brock, competition director for Mississippi Miss Hospitality, said. “While other programs are making the hard decision to postpone 2020 competition, we are happy to have a found a way to safely continue this longstanding Mississippi tradition during a time when our platform matters most for the state.”
Held in Hattiesburg each year, on-stage competition will showcase Mississippi’s best and brightest young women as they compete for the state title of Miss Hospitality. The young woman crowned 2020 Mississippi Miss Hospitality will serve a full year as the state’s official ambassador for economic development and tourism, promoting Mississippi’s story far and wide. “For 71 years, the Mississippi Miss Hospitality program has championed our state’s economic and tourism sectors, while providing the state’s best and brightest young women with this leadership and scholarship program,” Marlo Dorsey, executive director of VisitHATTIESBURG, said. “Revitalizing these sectors will be an extremely important part of Mississippi’s recovery story, and each of these young women will be an important part in making sure that our state’s best days are yet to come.
"All contestants will continue serving their local communities to promote tourism and economic development, the platform of the Mississippi Miss Hospitality program. Mississippi 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 in their hometowns and state.
Kasey Pearson was crowned 2019’s Mississippi Miss Hospitality last July. A native of Amory, Pearson has continued her role of serving as Mississippi’s goodwill ambassador during this trying time. As she completes her reign and a new Mississippi Miss Hospitality is crowned in July, the program will continue to serve as a catalyst to move Mississippi’s communities forward as tourism reopens across the state.