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Businesses adjusting to a summer without Miss Mississippi

Every summer, thousands come to Vicksburg to attend the Miss Mississippi competition.

These visitors stay in hotels, eat at restaurants and shop at local retail stores, providing a significant positive impact on Vicksburg’s economy.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition was canceled and while the candidates may have been disappointed they will not have the opportunity to compete for the state title, local businesses also will be disappointed experiencing the negative impact of not having those guests and customers in town and in their stores.

Laura Beth Strickland, executive director of the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the annual event brings in an estimated $2.35 million to the local economy.

“Over those four nights of competition, we have over a thousand people here in town for the pageant shopping in our shops, eating at our restaurants, staying at our hotels and stopping at our gas stations all over Vicksburg,” Strickland said.

And not only do they help the local economy, Strickland said, these people also provide extra energy.

“There is a great buzz in the air when the pageant is in town,” she said.

One business trying to adjust to a year without the competition is Helen’s Florist. For years, Helen’s has been a go-to for many of the candidates’ supporters, as well as the children who participate in the competition, for flowers and other gifts including custom teddy bears.

Helen’s Florist owner Nancy Gray said many of the items sold during the week of the competition were ordered well ahead of the event being canceled and now are in storage.

“We have teddy bears stored everywhere,” Gray said. “We rearranged our back storeroom so they are on all of the top shelves.” She also said some of the teddy bears have been stored at her daughter’s home due to limitations on space.

In addition to storage issues, Gray said, not having the competition has also caused a financial burden.

“This is a huge impact on us and will really affect the next couple of months,” Gray said. “It’s going to make an impact on everybody, but who knew.”

George Carr, the owner of George Carr Buick Cadillac GMC, plays host to one of the Miss Mississippi autograph parties, and while he may not have to pull out the punch and cookies this year, contestants and their supporters will not be walking through his doors.

“We host a third of the contestants plus Miss Mississippi each year,” Carr said of the annual autograph party his dealership hosts. “A lot of the attendees are family members of the contestants.”

But even though he will not host an autograph session this year, Carr’s dealership will continue to have a partnership with the competition. Each year, the dealership provides the reigning Miss Mississippi transportation during the winner’s reign. And even though there will not be a competition this year, current Miss Mississippi Mary Margaret Hyer will continue to be provided vehicles by George Carr.

“We did decide to continue to keep the current Miss Mississippi in a car and take care of her during her two-year term,” he said.

Bobbie Marascalco, the owner of Peterson’s, a retail store along Washington Street, said competition week is great for business.

And while she misses the positive economic impact, she said she also misses visiting with those who come to Vicksburg.

“The biggest thing I will miss is seeing all the people, the families and the little princesses and the autograph party,” Marascalco said. “The (Miss Mississippi Competition) is great for business.”

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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