• 79°

Community prepares for Miss Camellia

On Saturday, July 22, the Ritz Theatre will be "swingin' in the Sixties" without the help of a time machine.

The second annual Miss Camellia Scholarship Program, an official preliminary pageant to the Miss Alabama and Miss America pageants, will be held at the Theatre at 7 p.m. This year's theme will be "The Swingin' Sixties," featuring the contestants in several production numbers.

Master of ceremonies for the event will be the reigning Miss Alabama, Jana Sanderson, and special entertainment will be provided by Sanderson, the reigning Miss Camellia Haley Spates, and by Jr. Miss winners from Butler, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw and Pike counties.

Wendy McDougal, director of this year's pageant, said she is excited about the opportunity to provide Alabama's young ladies with a chance to earn $3,500 in scholarship funds, an increase from last year's $1,300.

"It is our privilege to be able to, once again, offer this scholarship opportunity to young women throughout Alabama," McDougal said. "The hope is that in years to come a tremendous level of interest will be generated in the south central area and more and more young women will have a chance to compete for scholarships and the opportunities of a lifetime."

Contestants between the ages of 17 and 24 will compete in four categories: personal interview, swimsuit, talent and evening gown to try to earn the scholarship money and a chance to represent south central Alabama in the Miss Alabama Pageant in June 2001 in Birmingham.

McDougal said Miss Camellia 2000, Haley Spates, who earned fourth runner up at the Miss Alabama pageant this summer, did an excellent job in representing the area.

"We were thrilled with the way Haley represented the area and felt she was a beautiful representative and helped us springboard into a new year," McDougal, who was Miss Alabama 1991, said. "Hopefully, it will help us to have a very successful event this year."

To prepare for the event, McDougal said she and the other volunteers had to solicit program sponsorship to help pay for the fees and scholarship sponsors to donate money for Miss Camellia 2001. Sponsors for this year's pageant are L. V. Stabler Memorial Hospital, Whitney National Bank, Terminix and Touchstone Energy in Andalusia.

To qualify for the Miss Camellia pageant, one is not required to be a resident of Butler County because the pageant is considered an "open preliminary." The Miss America pageant offers an open and closed preliminary in all 50 states.

An open preliminary allows for anyone who is a resident of Alabama to compete, while a closed preliminary only allows for young women who live in or go to school in a specific area to compete.

The Miss Camellia pageant is an open preliminary because not many pageants qualifying to compete in the Miss Alabama pageant are available in this area of the state.

For more information on the pageant, contact Wendy McDougal at 382-0854.