Mrs. Tennessee 2013 to be crowned Saturday
By JESSICA PACE
For Brentwood Home Page
Eight women from across the state will compete for the title of Mrs. Tennessee on October 27 at the historic Franklin Theatre.
Interviews and swimsuit, evening gown and beauty competitions overseen by a panel of judges will determine the best model of Tennessee’s contemporary married woman.
This year’s pageant will double as a fundraiser for Dave Bennett, who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease and is husband to Paige Bennett, Mrs. Tennessee 2004. Donation boxes and a silent auction will offer attendees the opportunity to donate to the Bennetts.
Mrs. Tennessee 2013 contestants stand to win a prize package valued at more than $15,000. The winner will go on to compete with 50 other contestants from the other states and the District of Columbia in the Mrs. America pageant. The contestant who wins the title will spend the year as spokesperson for America’s married women.
The Mrs. America pageant began as essentially a “best housewife” competition in 1938. The pageant took a hiatus after 1968 and returned as a reformed pageant in 1977.
“They had competitions like baking, changing diapers. It was seriously more a Betty Crocker competition than a contemporary woman pageant. Now we’re focused on the contestant’s beauty and her accomplishments outside the home in the professional world and in her community. It has certainly evolved, thank goodness [laughs],” said Delayna Bridges, who has directed the Mrs. Tennessee pageant for the past 20 years and the Mrs. Mississippi pageant for the past seven years with husband Bob.
Bridges, appointed director toward the end of her reign as Mrs. Tennessee America 1993, held the Mrs. Tennessee pageant in Jackson, Tenn. for the length of her directorship. The event, now in its 36th year as a modernized pageant, is new to Franklin.
“It’s exciting to be here,” said Bridges. “The Franklin Theatre is absolutely gorgeous. It’s our ultimate dream location for the pageant.”
As Mrs. Tennessee, the winner will have the opportunity to give back to the community through a variety of organizations and nonprofits as Bethany Sharp, Mrs. Tennessee 2012, did in the past year.
“I was able to get involved with so many organizations, probably more than I ever would have gotten involved with otherwise,” said Sharp. “The pageant gave me a lot of exposure, and I got to learn about organizations’ passions and purposes from the Bootstraps Foundation to Habitat for Humanity. I got to work with animals, kids, you name it.”
During her reign, Sharp was also named a spokesperson for the National Academy of Hypothyroidism (NAH).
In addition to her service on a community and national level, Sharp says the best part of the Mrs. Tennessee pageant is the camaraderie.
“One of my favorite things about this pageant is how many friends I’ve made. Most of my close friendships came through the Mrs. Tennessee program. Delayna Bridges is one of my most cherished friends,” she said.
Sharp will attend Saturday to give a farewell speech and crown her successor.