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By MATT CRANE
Anna Marie Foster, Starkville‚Äôs Miss Hospitality, is on a mission to promote her hometown and state.
While preliminary interview competition is currently under way, the 63rd annual Mississippi Miss Hospitality pageant officially begins its public competition Friday at 8 p.m. nightly, and will crown its winner Saturday in the Saeger Theater in Hattiesburg.
Peggy Buckley, coordinator for the local Miss Hospitality pageant, said Foster was crowned in March and has been working hard in preparation for the competition.
‚ÄúAnne Marie is really enthusiastic and she interviews so well,‚ÄĚ Buckley said. ‚ÄúShe‚Äôs always wanted to be Miss Hospitality.‚ÄĚ
Buckley said she is proud of Foster‚Äôs accomplishments and applauded the organization‚Äôs effort to educate young women about their states and hometowns.
‚ÄúI think it helps girls get to know their community,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThey begin to know about what‚Äôs going on nationwide and that‚Äôs good for them.‚ÄĚ
A 2010 graduate of Starkville Academy, Foster is the daughter of Jeff and Barbara Foster, and the granddaughter of Helen and Joe Brown, and Anna Simms. She is currently enrolled at the Mississippi University for Women as a sophomore in the nursing program.
Foster said she is looking forward to the competition on Friday.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm very excited,‚ÄĚ Foster said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve already had several dress rehearsals for the production numbers.‚ÄĚ
Foster said her job as Starkville‚Äôs Miss Hospitality has been to act as a goodwill ambassador of sorts for the city and Oktibbeha County.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve enjoyed my short time as Starkville‚Äôs Miss Hospitality,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve been able to do several things with the Starkville Area Arts Council, and I hope to continue that partnership with them and other area organizations.‚ÄĚ
Along with the interview, evening wear and black dress portions of the competition, Foster said she and the 34 other contestants vying for the crown will give a speech on Mississippi and their respective hometowns.
‚ÄúWe try to promote tourism and economic development that goes on in our state,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI will be putting emphasis on how diverse Mississippi is, and how we all look for common ground with the people we meet.‚ÄĚ
Foster will compete Friday, and the top 10 contestants will be announced Saturday at the beginning of competition.
Other awards to be given throughout competition are for top three speech, top three ad sales, the Spirit of Miss Hospitality Award and Miss Photogenic Award.
Anyone interested in sending a last minute letter or card of encouragement to Foster may send one to: Anna Marie Foster, Miss Hospitality Pageant, 118 College Drive #5604, Hattiesburg, MS 39406. For more information, visit http://www.misshospitality.com.