Sarah Beth James, of Madison is the new Miss Mississippi

VICKSBURG - Sarah Beth James of Madison is  new Miss Mississippi.

Miss Metro Jackson, James was chosen Saturday night before a crowd of 2,200 in a near-packed Vicksburg Convention Center after a week of competition.

She will receive a $10,000 scholarship from Miss Mississippi Corp. and will represent the state in the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas in January.

James succeeds Brandon resident Anna Tadlock, a Mississippi State University graduate who soon will begin working on her master's degree in English at Mississippi College.

James, 20, is a junior communications major at MSU.

"When they called out my name, time stood still," she said as she held a bouquet of roses on stage. "I'm so blessed and honored."

James beat out Clinton-native Miss Spirit of the South Jill Duckworth, 21, a speech communications major at the University of Southern Mississippi, who was named first runner-up.

James played a classical piano piece for the talent portion of the competition.

Her platform is to promote organ and tissue donation.

"I think we have an outstanding Miss Mississippi," said David Blackledge, head of the pageant's board of directors. "We definitely think she will represent us well in Las Vegas."

Second runner-up was Kristen Benigno, 20, of Laurel, Miss University of Southern Miss. Third runner-up was Caitlyn Smith, Miss Delta Blues, an English major at the University of Alabama. Fourth runner-up was Fenly Akers, Miss Mississippi State University, a Vicksburg native and sophomore communications major.

Three winners were chosen in two competition categories Friday night:

  • In swimwear, Miss Rankin County/Southwest Megan Miller, and Duckworth won $200 scholarships.



  • In talent, Smith won a $300 scholarship.


    A total of $294,561 in scholarship funds was distributed among the winners.

    The Miss Mississippi 2010 pageant theme was "Two Kings and a Queen" set to music by Michael Jackson, Queen and Elvis.

    Miss America 1981 Susan Powell and Miss Mississippi 2006 Taryn Foshee hosted the event