Miss Hospitality 2017 crowned in Hattiesburg

Miss Hospitality 2017 crowned in Hattiesburg
Emma Grace McGrew of Booneville is crowned the 2017 Mississippi Miss Hospitality in Hattiesburg Saturday night. Photo credit WDAM.

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - There's a new Miss Hospitality in Mississippi.

Emma Grace McGrew, of Booneville, was crowned Miss Hospitality 2017 at the Saenger Theater in Hattiesburg.

WDAM 7 caught up with the 18-year-old after the ceremony Saturday night.

"I'm still in shock, honestly," said McGrew.  "But I can not wait to love Mississippi more and to love it better."

25 contestants from across the state made their way to the Hub City this past week to participate in activities around the Pine Belt.  This was the 20th year Hattiesburg hosted the pageant.

"It's appropriate this competition is held here, particularly on the 20th year," said Mayor Toby Barker.  "Hattiesburg is the third most visited city in the state, it embodies everything Mississippi should strive to be - welcoming, appreciated, diversity. And we 're just glad to host all these talented young women and have these visitors here tonight."

McGrew will now spend the next year as the state's goodwill ambassador, promoting tourism and economic development in Mississippi.

"I definitely want to serve others, I want to bring out the agriculture side of the state, I think it's a big part of our heritage," McGrew said.  "And I want to get to know and love more of the citizens of Mississippi, because it is the best state to live in."

McGrew will be attending Northeast Mississippi Community College in the fall and also plans to attend Mississippi State University.   She said she hopes to one day become a dentist.

McGrew said Miss Hospitality was more than just a crown.

"I did not expect to grow so close to people who I've only known for a week and I did not expect to walk away with so much more than this crown and this sash," McGrew said.  "I am just overwhelmed, I can't wait for this next year."