Before Dean Dennis came to Memphis in February 2019 to be CEO of the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, he ran the Convention Center in Atlantic City, the New Jersey resort town that hosted the Miss America pageant for most of the pageant’s 100-year history.
“There is a statue of Bert Parks just outside the building,” Dennis said, referring to the longtime TV contest host who sang each winner with the song “There She Is, Miss America” . “It’s life size.”
But as fate (and the national research firm that identified him for the Memphis job) would have liked, Dennis is back in the pageant action, just three years after attending his last Miss event. America. This is because this year’s Miss Tennessee Scholarship Contest is scheduled to take place. July 1-3 at the Cannon Center, in what will be the first stop for the event in Memphis since its founding in 1938.
Thirty young women will vie for the crown of Miss Tennessee, an honor that will place the winner among 51 nominees – representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia – expected to take the stage at the nationally televised Miss America ceremony at the Mohegan Sun. casino in December. Wearing shimmering tiaras and sashes that identified them by title, five of those Miss Tennessee hopefuls were at the Cannon Center on Tuesday morning, to bring some variety to a press conference introducing the contest to the city that was otherwise dominated by men in dark suits and ties.
Candidates for Miss Tennessee include:
- Miss Perry County (Lauren Dickson)
- Miss Greater Gibson County (Abbie Bayless)
- Miss Southern Tennessee (Kayle Davis)
- Miss Jackson (Halle Treace de Collierville)
- Miss Bluff City Fair (Lydia Fisher)
The men included Memphis Tourism president Kevin Kane, who called the contest a “godsend” to Memphis after the drought year of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic not only postponed Miss Tennessee for a year. , but stifled most of Memphis’s iconic events.
“We’re going back to events,” said a beaming Kane.
He said Miss Tennessee’s public appearances – which begin June 27 with a 6 p.m. parade on Beale Street and continue through three nights of competition at the Cannon Center – will not provide “huge” tourism revenue, but “whatever the economic impact is good for us right now.”
“After what we went through last year, any event is a godsend for us,” he said, adding that the Miss Tennessee contestants and their family members, supporters and fans should represent the event. ‘equivalent of about 500 “nights” in local hotels.
Miss Tennessee CEO Joe Albright of Milan said Memphis was chosen to host Miss Tennessee two years ago, but “Mother Nature decided ‘not yet.’ But here we are now.”
As the tiara-capped contestants posed for cellphone photos and smiled for various video cameras, in a likely preview of upcoming visits to Graceland and the Memphis Zoo, Albright said: “We’re going to give Memphis a week. that they will never forget. “