PHOTOS: Miss Hospitality contestants

PHOTOS: Miss Hospitality contestants

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Mississippi Miss Hospitality will host its 20th beauty pageant Friday.

The pageant will have 25 contestants all from across Mississippi to Hattiesburg. Each contestant will spend a week participating in service projects, touring the community, learning dance numbers for the pageant, interviewing with judges, and making lifelong friendships.

"When I arrived in Hattiesburg last year, I quickly formed a bond with the other girls. We immediately had a common bond, and that was our love for our state," Mary Elizabeth Stringer, Mississippi's current Miss Hospitality said. "While we each came to Hattiesburg to compete for the title, we left as a closer, stronger group of young leaders than when we arrived. The Miss Hospitality experience has been life changing."

Stringer spent her year as Mississippi's Miss Hospitality traveling the state and promoting tourism and economic development as the state's official goodwill ambassador. Stringer has spoken at events such as the Mississippi Governor's Conference and Hattiesburg's Shining Stars Tourism Luncheon, opened the Mississippi State Fair, ridden in parades, and kept a Mississippi-themed blog during her reign.

"We have truly enjoyed having Mary Elizabeth as our 2016 Miss Hospitality. For a year, she has championed Mississippi with her intelligent and poignant insights into a state with a rich history and promising future," Jennifer Parsons, director of the Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant said. "We know she will take these experiences with her as she begins the next chapter of her life. We are anticipating a wonderful new addition to the Miss Hospitality family next Saturday, and we are confident a strong tradition of ambassadorship will continue."

The pageant will take place on July 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. each evening.