Miss Tennessee Scholarship Pageant Week kicks off in the Hub City

JACKSON, Tenn. — ​The best and brightest from across the volunteer state walk across the stage Sunday afternoon at the Old Hickory Mall in north Jackson. Organizers are quick to point out, this is a scholarship pageant, not a beauty pageant.

“They’re looking for a well rounded delightful young woman who can think on her feet, is very intelligent, but first and foremost she has to be a spokesperson for our program and for children,” said pageant co-executive director Allison DeMarcus.

Each of the​ contestants​ have already won a crown at the preliminary level just to be here and walk alongside their iris princesses, a possible contestant one day, herself.

“It feels really good. I’ve never really done this. This is my first time doing it, so yeah, its really fun,” said Shelby County Iris Princess Emi Hammond.

T​his is just the first of many public events for the ladies. They’ll visit with community groups throughout the week as they practice and prepare ​​for preliminary competitions, which begin Wednesday. Those scoring the highest will compete Saturday for the crown.

“Top 15, they’ll compete in swimsuit, then the top 12 will compete in talent, and then the top ten will compete in evening gown,” said DeMarcus, “and then the top 5 will compete in their on stage question.”

​Though only one of these ladies will walk away with the crown, each will leave a winner. More than​ 92,000 dollars in scholarship money will ​be awarded.

“I honestly think that the nerves are all gone now. I think up until this point, nerves have always been there, but now that were here, were ready to go, and I’m excited,” said Miss Jackson Kailey Jordan.

Miss Tennessee says this is a bitter sweet week for her, but she says she’s grateful for all of the wonderful things she’s gotten to do while wearing the crown.

“My absolute favorite part of being Miss Tennessee was serving as governor Haslam’s spokesperson for character education. So I traveled across our state and I spoke about perseverance,” said Miss Tennessee 2016 Grace Burgess.

Pageant directors say, tickets are still ​available for each night of competition at the Carl Perkins Civic Center in Downtown Jackson.

Tickets are available anytime of the day at the civic center box office or you can purchase tickets right before competition begins.