Miss NC celebrates 80 years

The 80th Miss North Carolina will be crowned Saturday night

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Contestants for the 2016 Miss North Carolina Scholarship Pageant and the 2016 Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen competition perform their opening number during preliminary competition at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh on Thursday

RALEIGH — A long-standing tradition of empowering women, serving communities and providing scholarships is taking center stage this week as women from across the state flood the Capital City.
It’s competition week for the Miss North Carolina Organization. Celebrating 80 years, the organization will crown a new titleholder Saturday.
Looking back eight decades, the first Miss North Carolina pageant was held in 1937. Ruth McClean Covington was named first runner-up at the Bathing Beauty Contest at Charlotte’s Williamette Swimming Pool. When the winner chose to attend college, Covington took over the title and went on to be named second runner-up to Miss America.
Only one Miss North Carolina has become Miss America. Maria Beale Fletcher, formerly Miss Asheville and a Radio City Rockette, took home the ultimate crown in 1962.
“I cannot help but feel honored as I reflect on the 79 incredible women who have served this state as Miss North Carolina,” said Beth Knox, executive director of the Miss North Carolina Organization. “The group of young women competing to become Miss North Carolina is so very impressive. They are dedicated to completing their educations and determined to make an impact in their communities,”
The Miss America organization and its subsequent programs aim at helping women further their personal and professional goals while implementing a spirit of community service around the state.
Each contestant has a platform ranging from topics such as substance abuse, domestic violence, healthy living, self-confidence building, and bullying prevention to name a few. Contestants have completed service projects in their communities supporting their platforms.
Competition includes a 10-minute interview with a panel of judges, and onstage competitions in the areas of evening gown, talent, lifestyle and fitness (swimsuit), and an onstage question.
Scholarships are a vital component in helping these women further their educational and career goals. More than $70,000 in cash scholarships and more than $300,000 of in-kind donations will be awarded to participants this year.
“In 1996, my daughter Jennifer Roberts was crowned Miss N.C.,” said Amanda Roberts, a Miss N.C. parent and longtime volunteer with the organization. “At that time she was attending High Point University. There were some trying times occurring with our jobs, both my husband and mine, and the future was a bit uncertain.
“With the scholarship Jennifer was awarded, she graduated debt-free. From that moment forward I vowed to give back to this program as long as I could. This year marks my 20th anniversary serving as a hostess, State Traveling Companion to Miss America and Official Awards Chairperson.”
Roberts continued, “I’ve loved growing this area to ensure our Miss North Carolina has one of the most amazing awards package ever. It is such a pleasure to witness these young women transform during their journey to Miss North Carolina, and it just makes my heart fill with joy to be a small part of their journey.”
What to watch
While the contestants are spending the week preparing for competition, residents across North Carolina are invited to attend a variety of events.
Preliminary competitions are running this week beginning at 7 p.m. from June 21-23 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh.
The finals for the Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen begin at 2 p.m. on June 24 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts followed by the Miss North Carolina finals at 7 p.m.
The annual Cardinal Ball, complete with Miss N.C. memorabilia from the organization’s 80-year span, will be 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on June 24 in the third-floor ballroom of the Raleigh Convention Center.
In the last several years, the tradition of People’s Choice Voting has continued to grow in popularity. You can cast your votes for your Miss N.C. once a day on ABC11.com.
The pageant will be televised live on ABC11 on June 24. Once the winner is crowned, she will begin a yearlong statewide speaking tour which includes meeting residents, riding in parades, reading to school children, participating in Children’s Miracle Network events and much more. Tickets for all events can be purchased through Ticketmaster.com.