HATTIESBURG (JUNE 24, 2021) — Representatives from across the state will participate in the 72nd Mississippi Miss Hospitality Competition at the Historic Hattiesburg Saenger Theater in Downtown Hattiesburg July 15 – 17 at 8 p.m. each evening.
Established in 1949 under Governor Fielding Wright and the Mississippi Legislature, the Mississippi Miss Hospitality Competition champions the state’s tourism and economic development sectors while supporting Mississippi’s best and brightest young women through a robust scholarship program.
In its 24th year as host city, Hattiesburg will host thirty-seven women who represent all regions of the state, with the winner serving for a full year as the state’s official ambassador for economic development and tourism.
In 2020, the Mississippi Miss Hospitality state competition was one of many organizations to feel the business disruption effects of COVID-19. Pivoting, the program hosted a virtual preliminary competition before welcoming the Top 10 contestants to Hattiesburg for the one-night-only in-person competition.
During the modified program, McKay Lee Bray was crowned the 71st Mississippi Miss Hospitality in July 2020 in Hattiesburg. A Greene County native, Bray recently graduated from Jones College and plans to attend the University of Mississippi to pursue a career in the medical field.
In 2021, the program is returning to an in-person format for all stages of the competition. New this year will be two nights of on-stage preliminary competition on Thursday and Friday, followed by the final on-stage competition with the top 10 contestants on Saturday.
“We are eager to welcome all of the local title holders and their Little Misses to an in-person state competition this year. Tourism and economic development ambassadorship are key to our state’s future, and we are looking forward to a week of showcasing their achievements and service to community and state,“ Kristen Brock, Mississippi Miss Hospitality program director, said
Arriving on Sunday, July 11, the contestants will be welcomed to The University of Southern Mississippi before beginning their week-long journey to the crowning ceremony on July 17. Throughout competition week in Hattiesburg, contestants will attend social events, participate in community service projects, and attend rehearsals and competitions. The public is invited to meet the contestants at the Miss Hospitality Autograph Party at Turtle Creek Mall on Friday, July 16 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Every year, the state Miss Hospitality program generates approximately $450,000 in economic impact for the local Hattiesburg economy. During Miss Hospitality week, visitors stay in area hotels, dine in local restaurants, enjoy tourist attractions, and shop at local retail locations.
“We are delighted to be hosting these talented women and their Little Misses in Hattiesburg for this year’s competition,” Marlo Dorsey, executive director of VisitHATTIESBURG, said. “Their love of community and state has been tremendously inspiring, and we look forward to seeing their continued growth and leadership development for years to come.”
Guests will enjoy entertaining productions on all three nights of competition, with vocal and dance performances by contestants and local groups. The finale is set for Saturday evening at 8 p.m., where the top 10 contestants will be announced at the top of the show and continue to compete for the title.
Tickets to the show are now available and are expected to sell out, so pre-purchases are encouraged. Tickets may be purchased online at HattiesburgSaenger.com or by calling the Saenger Theater Box Office at 601.584.4888.
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.