The Miss America competition is on the horizon, with local competitions taking place all over the country including here in Southeast Georgia. The historic Mars Theatre in Springfield is gearing up to host two local competitions for the “Miss Springfield” and “Miss Atlantic Coast” crowns.
The Miss Springfield competition is a closed competition open to young women between the ages of 18 and 26 in Effingham county. By contrast, the Miss Atlantic Coast competition is an open competition for local women in the same age range from Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Liberty, Effingham and Screven counties. The competitions will run simultaneously, taking place at the Mars Theatre on the evening of Sat., August 6.
Unlike traditional beauty pageants, the Miss America brand is a competition that prioritizes social impact, volunteerism and community service over physical appearance. “The competition denotes the fact that the young women are not competing based on beauty or looks. That is the main distinction between a pageant and a competition,” said Brenda Edwards, the executive director of Miss America local competitions.
“The pageant industry has always been branded as [prioritizing] beauty and looks. . . Whereas in the Miss America organization, our highest-scored categories are talent and social impact . . . [Participants] have to show that they have a strong community service volunteer platform in order to win this competition,” she continued.
In the Miss Springfield and Miss Atlantic Coast competitions, young women will compete in three categories: social impact, talent, and runway. They’ll also do an opening routine and give a self-introduction. It’s noteworthy that the Miss America brand removed the swimsuit segment from all associated competitions, further cementing the importance of leadership and social responsibility over looks.
There are certain qualities judges look for in a winner. “[She] has to be well spoken and available and committed to a year of service. . . [Title holders] spend the rest of the year promoting their volunteerism platform, so we like for them to be available,” Edwards explained.
She believes that the competition is a great opportunity “to help young women gain poise, confidence, and respect for their communities.” The competition allows participants to develop and refine interview and public speaking skills. Competitors will also learn about their communities and what the needs are through the volunteerism mandate, helping them to become active pillars of their community.
The ladies who take the titles and win the crowns will receive scholarship funds that are paid directly to the school of their choice. That’s another important distinction of the Miss America competition. “In 1945, we became the first organization to award scholarships to women in the country,” said Edwards. Once title holders are awarded, they move up to compete in the Miss Georgia competition, where they can win around $20,000 in scholarships. Miss Georgia then advances to the Miss America competition where she can win about $50,000 in scholarships if crowned.
Young women interested in participating in the competition can register at missspringfieldga.org. There will also be an Outstanding Teen division for girls between 13 and 17. And there’s a noncompetitive princess program for young girls between the ages of 5 and 12. The competition event on Aug. 6 is open to the public. Tickets will go on sale July 5 at marstheatre.com.