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Rainee’s reign comes to an end

As the reign of Lincoln County’s goodwill ambassador comes to an end, the Brookhaven- Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce is looking for someone to step up and fill her shiny shoes.

Rainee Luper, Lincoln County’s 2016 Miss Hospitality, has spent the year representing the county at receptions, ribbon-cuttings, parades and other events.

Now it’s time to turn those duties over to another young woman who will then compete in the state pageant in July.

But the first step is to win on the county level, and to do that, women age 18-24 who are interested need to apply at the Chamber, said Katie Nations, the local pageant’s program director.

The Lincoln County pageant will be held at the Chamber April 8 at 1 p.m.

According to the Miss Hospitality website, judging on the local level is based on the following criteria: the person selected must be attractive, intelligent, a good speaker, photogenic, aggressive without being forward or self-centered, dignified; have a friendly spirit that is natural and spontaneous; be in good health; be gracious and sincere; and possess a general knowledge of state tourist attractions, history and economy. Special talents are not required, but accomplishments in pubic speaking and communication are of primary importance.

A GPA of at least is required.

Competitors are judged in poise and appearance and a formal interview. “The judges come from out of town so it’s nobody that we know,” Nations said.

Nations wants the 2017 winner to be get the full experience of the title by being present for many Lincoln County projects like Luper did.

Luper, the daughter of Heath and Tonya Luper and a graduate of Enterprise Attendance Center, said contestants should remember they are to be a representation of the county and should be well-versed in Mississippi history and attractions. She regrets not knowing more about the Magnolia State, but feels she wowed the judges with her love for the state.

Luper credits working at her parents’ restaurant, The Fish Fry in Brookhaven, for giving her confidence to talk to people like her co-workers and customers, and later, the Miss Hospitality judges.

After she won the Lincoln County title, she stayed in Hattiesburg for a week competing for the state title.

Nations said the Miss Hospitality pageant gives young women an opportunity to learn to present themselves positively, communicate with others and prepare for their futures.

“Rainee went to state and got to meet 27 people she made a connection with,” Nations said. “She can use those connections later on in life.”

Nations will help prepare the winner for the state pageant in Hattiesburg by providing space for all of the winner’s interviews and helping with the state fees.

The Chamber will also assist in preparation for the 90-second speech about Mississippi and 20-second commercial about the winner’s hometown.

Applications are available at Liz-Beth Pageants, Susan’s Shoppe and the Chamber.

The 68th annual Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant week runs July 16-22. The Miss Hospitality tradition began in 1949 under Gov. Fielding Wright. Presented by the City of Hattiesburg and the University of Southern Mississippi, the state pageant offers more than $100,000 in scholarships and prizes to young women from across Mississippi.

For more information, contact Katie Nations at 601-833-1411 or email Katie@brookhavenchamber.com.