Do you know what I love about the Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant?
I love it because Miss Hospitality is not about how good she looks in a bikini or how well she can twirl a flaming baton (disclaimer: there is absolutely nothing wrong with looking good in a bikini or having a talent. Heck, I wish I could claim just one of those on my resume!).
Instead, it’s the mission of the Miss Hospitality Organization to choose a young lady based off of a combination of interviews, speeches and state knowledge for the purpose of promoting Mississippi’s tourism, industry, and economic development.
After attending the pageant a few weeks ago , I feel confident that each of the 30 beautiful, bright young ladies that represented cities and counties from across the state could hold a conversation with just about anyone regarding these topics – I learned so much about our state in those 2 hours!
As the pageant came to the end, I sat there feeling very thankful for a few things. I felt thankful for having such a wonderful program for young girls – it was a breath of fresh air and made feel hopeful for my little girl as she sat beside me because, at least in Mississippi, manners and being nice to people are both qualities that still exist and are rewarded. That auditorium was packed full of proud mommas and daddies (and so many more!) that have worked hard over the past 20 years teaching their little girls the importance of taking pride in themselves, their community and state, and I am thankful for each of them.
I appreciated that our state recognizes that our hospitality is our strongest asset. Mississippi is so much more than our slow southern accents, sweet tea and good cooking. It’s our people, the way we act and talk to each other as if we are all family, regardless if you live down the road or visiting from Canada – those are the things that make people fall in love with Mississippi.
I was also thankful that I was not a judge that night! Those judges had some hard decisions because each of those 30 girls were so talented, well-spoken and absolutely beautiful! The ballots were tallied and the lovely Erin Morgan of Laurel was selected to represent Mississippi as Miss Hospitality…well deserved!
To have Laurel’s very own out there telling our story for the next year….well, I can’t think of a better person or timing with all the other positive things the City of Laurel and Jones County have going on right now. You know, it’s a great time to be from Laurel/Jones County. We often joke by saying what’s coming is a ‘perfect storm’ of positivity but really it’s a lot of people’s hard work mixed with a little luck that’s ironically paying off all at the same time!
Considering the upcoming movie, The Free State, with its estimated 50 million dollar national advertising campaign budget, a potential nationally-televised series about our community, and the Beacon Street/Leontyne Price Parkway Project …coupled with all of the other projects that Laurel Main Street, EDA and so many more are working on – it’s almost too much opportunity to comprehend!
There are a lot of good people that are preparing and getting ready for whatever this all may bring us, but I rest assured knowing we will be able to handle anything that’s thrown at us and no matter what, we will be able to show off the thing that’s so wonderful about Laurel “Mississippi’s Downtown” and what we all love about The New State of Jones – our hospitality.
Join us on September 3rd, 6pm, at the New Laurel Welcome Center in downtown as we celebrate Erin Morgan, Mississippi’s Miss Hospitality, and all the opportunity ahead… let’s make this a huge night for Erin, The City of Laurel, Jones County, and the Great State of Mississippi!
– MALLORIE RASBERRY
Laurel Main Street President & Walthall County Miss Hospitality 2004