By GWEN SISSON
Mary Lowry Nemeth was crowned Starkville’s Miss Hospitality 2011 in a special Tea Pageant Saturday afternoon at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership Welcome Center.
Nemeth is a freshman at Mississippi State University, majoring in biological science. She is the daughter of Mike and Renee Nemeth of Starkville.
“I enjoyed the pageant so much and I have learned so much by being part of it,” Nemeth said. “I am so honored to represent Starkville.”
Lowry will receive $1,850 in scholarship money as the winner of this year’s pageant. MSU donated a $1,500 scholarship; GSDP donated a $150 scholarship; GSDP Ambassadors donated $100; Peggy Buckley donated $50; and Vicki Burnett donated $50 in scholarship money for Miss Hospitality.
“We are thrilled for Mary Lowry to represent Starkville as Miss Hospitality,” said Vicki Burnett, director of Starkville’s Miss Hospitality Pageant. “She will represent Starkville with sophistication and elegance. She has a lovely personality. She is charming and intelligent.”
“She is also a great role model, and that is what you look for in a Miss Hospitality contestant,” said Tori Ferguson, emcee for the pageant and former Starkville Miss Hospitality.
Anna-Marie Foster was named First Alternate in Starkville’s Miss Hospitality Pageant. She is a senior at Starkville Academy and the daughter of Jeff and Barbara Foster.
As first alternate, Foster will receive a $500 scholarship, donated by Clark Beverage Group.
Lindsey Norman also participated in Saturday’s pageant. She is a freshman at MSU, majoring in sports communication. She is the daughter of Don and Peggy Norman.
Serving as judges for this year’s pageant were Dr. Ann Bailey, Bevery Howell and Dr. Sharon Nobles, former Starkville and Mississippi’s Miss Hospitality in 1969-70.
As part of Saturday’s Tea Pageant, the three contestants competed in the five-minute interview portion, which counted for 60 percent of the competition.
They also participated in the “Little Black Dress” commercial competition, which counted for the remaining 40 percent of the competition. The contestants wore their favorite “Little Black Dress” and recited their 20-second “commercial” sharing why their hometown is “a unique and wonderful place to live.”
Part of Saturday’s program also recognized the work of last year’s Miss Hospitality winner, Paige Watson.
Watson said she has had a wonderful year, getting new insight into city of Starkville.
“This year has been a blessing,” Watson said. “Everyone has been so supportive and I have had the opportunity to meet so many people in Starkville through this experience.”
She said some of the highlights of her year as Starkville’s Miss Hospitality was sharing her faith at 2010’s National Day of Prayer event, serving as a mentor at local schools and being a celebrity reader at Starkville Academy and the library.
And, Watson said going to ribbon cuttings throughout Starkville have been fun this year.
“I have gotten to meet so many people and ribbon cuttings are like mini parties,” Watson said. “It is impossible to go to all of them, but the ones I have been able to attend have been fun.”
Watson said she was impressed with this year’s contestants.
“They are all so well respected in the community,” Watson said.
Her best advice to the winner, is to “stay true to yourself.”
“That is what the state judges are looking for,” Watson said. “They want someone who is true to themselves, true to the state of Mississippi and has a passion for getting the state’s name out there in positive ways.”
Watson shared with the crowd gathered Saturday that in the history of the Miss Hospitality Pageant, Starkville and Hattiesburg are the communities with the most winners. She said Hattiesburg (which is the hometown of the state pageant) has had four state winners and Starkville has had three state winners.
“Let’s work on tying that up this year,” Watson said.
The 2011 Mississippi’s Miss Hospitality Pageant week will be July 24-30, with the theme, “Mississippi Magic.” Organizers said the theme will demonstrate “the charming qualities for which Mississippi is known.”
For more information about Mississippi’s Miss Hospitality Pageant, contact the Pageant Office at (800) 638-6877, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .