HATTIESBURG, MS. (WDAM) - Thirty young women, like Lamar County's K-J Lockley, are busy preparing this week for the 2010 Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant.
Lockley said, "It's been such a blessing to see such a huge group of strong, independent, intelligent young women."
The contestants come from all over the state bringing with them charm and in depth knowledge about their hometowns. Rick Taylor is the Executive Director of Visit Hattiesburg, the Hub City's Visitors Bureau.
"And that is what we expect of the pageant winner, is that she can go out and articulate a very positive message of our state, to know the state, to know it's strengths, to be able to sell the state of Mississippi in economic development and in tourism," said Taylor.
Claire Walley knows what it takes, she is Miss Hospitality 2009. The Greene County native is a recent graduate of William Carey University and plans to study pharmacology at Ole Miss.
"Just glad that I'm here, I can be there for them and give them an insiders perspective, but also enjoy my final week as Miss Hospitality myself and I know they are going to help me do that," said Walley.
Susan Slaughter Chairs the Miss Hospitality Pageant. She said, "This is a great opportunity for young women across the state, who are looking for opportunities to develop personally and professionally and who are passionate about the state of Mississippi. To give them an opportunity to speak on our behalf and compete for that title."
Contestants in the Mississippi Miss Hospitality pageant are also competing for over 100-thousand dollars in scholarships and prizes.