KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL)- Are you competing to become the next Miss Tennessee or Miss Tennessee Volunteer?
It’s a question that’s never been asked before as for the first time in the Miss Tennessee organization’s history there are now two separate events.
Miss Tennessee is now under new leadership and there are big changes underway with this year’s competition.
Miss Tennessee will no longer hold a swimsuit portion of the competition and will instead focus on what they call a ‘social impact’ platform.
By winning Miss Tennessee you will still compete in Miss America.
There’s also a new pageant in town, called ‘Miss Tennessee Volunteer’ centered on the original competition style of Miss America.
Miss Tennessee Volunteer will keep the swimsuit competition and the winner will serve as the Governor’s character education spokesperson.
Miss Tennessee Volunteer is also staying true to the competition’s original home in Jackson, Tennessee under the origninal leadership of Miss Tennessee.
While this year, new leadership for Miss Tennessee decided this year’s competition will be held in Knoxville for the first time in more than 70 years.
“It’s a great event and its really a big deal to have it here in Knoxville. so we’re thrilled,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs.
Miss Tennessee leaders said they are also open to the idea of moving the competition to different areas of the state in the future.
The reason for this divide boils down to leadership as there have been major changes in the Miss America organization on all levels.
News Channel 11’s Kristen Gallant traveled to Knoxville to learn more about the changes within the two organizations and spoke with the former Miss Tennessee, Christine Williamson, who decided to give up her title and stay with the previous leadership.
Miss Tennessee CEO, Joe Albright, saying that this is the first time in Miss Tennessee’s history that a Miss Tennessee has cut ties with the program.
“We are still saddened by that loss, because this is a tradition. To not have one to crown our next miss Tennessee is equally disappointing,” he said.
Williamson saying she felt like her best interests were not in mind,
“It felt like my hands were being forced. I chose to cease using the title of Miss Tennessee and cut my ties. It was important to me to finish this journey with the people I started with and to be able to crown the girl who will serve in the same capacity I did.”
Contestants also having to decide which organization to enter.
“When the Miss America Organization took over and made changes, that wasn’t the dream that I initially had,” said Miss Tennessee Volunteer contestant Anne Sandelvich.
Amanda Mayo also competing in Jackson Tennessee this year said,
“I decided to go where all my friends where going, not because I’m a follower but because of all the stories they were telling.”
For Harley Ramsey going to Miss Tennessee for the chance to compete at Miss America was something she’s always dreamt of.
The Miss Tennessee Volunteer Pageant in Jackson giving the women who competed a combined $125,000 worth in scholarships. The Miss Tennessee Scholarship Competition in Knoxville, giving the young women $80,000 in scholarship money.
Williamson saying that it all depends on the girl, as to where they want to compete.
“This is about the women who are participating, their decision and their long term goals. If they want to go to Miss America then that’s okay. If they want to serve as the Governor’s character education spokesperson then okay,” said Williamson.
Kerri Arnold winning this years Miss Tennessee Volunteer.
Saturday a new Miss Tennessee for the Miss America Organization will be crowned in Knoxville earning $15,000 in scholarship money.
Albright saying that he hopes the production of a competition sends a message of empowering women.
“Everything we have done prepares these women for careers. These are women that we expect to be and encourage to be leaders as corporate executives, as lawyers, as doctors, as government leaders.”
Right now, the Miss America Competition does not have a set date or venue for this year.