By MATT CRANE
Competition begins tonight for 42 young women vying for the title of Miss Mississippi in Vicksburg.
Contestants have been involved with parades and autograph parties since Monday in Vicksburg, having the opportunity to meet local residents and give interviews to various press outlets.
Six young women with ties to both Starkville and Mississippi State University will compete this week: Miss Delta Blues, Ashley Hamby; Miss Tupelo, Megan Rohman; TaNechi Temple, Miss North Central Mississippi; Miss Historic South, Jessica Terrill; Miss Spirit of the South, Jasmine Murray; and Miss Mississippi State University, Stephanie Stanford.
Preliminary competition begins tonight at the Vicksburg Convention Center, culminating in a live televised broadcast on the local NBC affiliate Saturday, June 30. Competition begins at 8 p.m. nightly.
During preliminary rounds, each contestant is judged on various pageant elements: a private interview, 25 percent; talent, 35 percent; lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit, 15 percent; evening wear, 20 percent; and an on stage question worth 5 percent.
On the final night of competition, the composite scores from a contestantâ€™s preliminary rankings will count for 30 percent; talent, 30 percent; lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit, 20 percent; and evening wear, 20 percent.
Allen Karel, press chairman for the Miss Mississippi pageant, said tickets are still available to purchase for this weekâ€™s competition.
Tickets for tonight and the Thursday evening competition are $30 each, Friday night tickets are $40 and for Saturday nightâ€™s final competition tickets are $50. Sets of tickets for the entire pageant are priced at $125.
For more information about the 2012 Miss Mississippi Pageant and its contestants, visit their website at http://www.missmississippipageant.com, call 601-638-6746 or follow them on Twitter, @MissMSPageant for live updates throughout the competition.