KINGSPORT — Miss Tennessee the person, Tally Bevis, paid a special visit to the city on Tuesday. Miss Tennessee, the annual scholarship competition, could start calling Kingsport “home” in 2023.
Bevis was among a group that gathered at The Encounter to mark the first public discussion of the Miss Tennessee competition coming to Kingsport. The pageant was held in Jackson for more than 70 years, Janie Albright said. It most recently was held in Memphis.
Albright’s husband, Joe, is CEO of Miss Tennessee Scholarship Competition Inc., which is licensed by the Miss America Organization as a preliminary to the national competition. Albright serves as chief of staff.
Kingsport officials, local business leaders and supporters of the region’s multiple Miss America preliminary competitions (such as Miss Kingsport) have been wooing the organizers of the statewide competition for some time, Albright said — with a special shout-out to Ethel Smawley, owner of The Encounter and host of the gathering.
Albright said a firm decision won’t be made until spring, after the current pageant cycle ends and after she and her husband are able to visit Kingsport again for a few days.
Moving the annual Miss Tennessee competition to the Northeast tip of the state would be in keeping with what Albright said she and her husband told Miss America officials when they were granted the license for Miss Tennessee by the national organization.
“We told them our state is fabulous from Memphis to Kingsport,” Albright said. “We told them we want to take the show on the road. We need to know Tennessee from one end to the other, and I think Kingsport is a great place to be ‘the other end.’ We are strongly considering it.”
Mayor Pat Shull said having the Miss Tennessee competition come to Kingsport would be “huge” and bring with it an influx of visitors. Shull assured Albright and the others the city, its organizations and businesses have the venues, lodging and other amenities needed to host the event.
Albright said she appreciated and was “blown away” by the effort local leaders and supporters have gone to to show her and others around this week, all of which “makes it so obvious we can’t say ‘no.’ So ... here we come!”
Again, however, Albright said an official decision is months away and noted she is only one vote.
“But I know the CEO pretty well,” Albright joked.
The Miss Tennessee Scholarship Competition is part of the Miss America Organization, which is one of the nation’s leading achievement programs for young women.