Nine Area Representatives Vying For Miss Tennessee Title

Competition Starts Wednesday Night in Jackson

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - by Wendy King

Nine women from and/or representing the Chattanooga area are among the 38 contestants vying for the 2006 Miss Tennessee title as the competition gets underway tonight in Jackson with the first of three preliminary rounds leading up to Saturday’s finals when current titleholder Tara Burns crowns her successor.

Like her predecessors in recent years, the new Miss Tennessee will become a state government employee when she becomes the Governor’s Spokesperson for a Safe and Drug Free Tennessee and embarks on a statewide school speaking tour.

She will also continue the tradition of representing the state at the Miss America Pageant but with a modern twist. After Country Music Television (CMT) obtained the broadcast rights for the 2006 pageant in January, the network posted its highest ratings ever when Jennifer Berry of Tulsa, Oklahoma became the first Miss America crowned in Las Vegas instead of Atlantic City.

The 2007 pageant will be held months apart so to speak. The 51 national finalists will travel to Hollywood in September to tape a seven week series which will feature all of the contestants competing in talent, interview, swimsuit and evening wear for the first time ever. The series will be broadcast in January on CMT prior to the national finals which will be held in a yet to be announced location.

Also, the viewers will have their say in naming seven of the 15 Miss America finalists via the internet.

Miss Berry will be able to give the new Miss Tennessee her firsthand impressions as she will be a special guest on Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday night, Jay DeMarcus of the top selling and multi-award winning country group Rascal Flatts, will join his wife Miss Tennessee 1999 and pageant emcee Allison Alderson DeMarcus on the Carl Perkins Civic Center stage. The group’s recently released “Me and My Gang” album debuted at the number one spot on the Billboard charts.

The area women competing are Miss Chattanooga Rachel Parsons of Jasper; Miss Cleveland Ansley Reagan of Ooltewah, who was third runner-up last year; Miss Hamilton County Stefanie Wittler of Soddy-Daisy; Miss Metropolitan Blaire Pancake of Chattanooga; Miss Pride of Middle Tennessee Miranda Wasmer of Hixson; Miss Scenic City Alison Parson of Michie; Miss Southeast Tennessee Danielle Colburn of Memphis; Miss Tennessee Valley Kristen Johnson of Murfreesboro and Miss Volunteer, Elizabeth Jane Chedester of LaFollette.

Ms. Parson, a singer/songwriter who attends Middle Tennessee State University, is competing for the third time while Chedester, Colburn, Parsons and Reagan are making their second appearance. Johnson, Pancake, Wasmer and Wittler are the newcomers to Jackson.

Ms. Parson, a vocal performance major, will sing the Aretha Franklin classic “Think.”

Ms. Chedester is returning to the pageant after a six year absence where as a 17-year-old in 2000 she was fourth runner-up to Cleveland’s Beth Hood. The vocalist who will sing “My Funny Valentine” in the talent segment received her Masters in Arts at Belmont University.

Ms. Colburn, who advocates diabetes awareness, represented MTSU at last year’s pageant. The aspiring network news anchor will perform “Your Daddy’s Son” from the musical Ragtime.

Ms. Parsons, who was the recipient of the coveted Torchbearer award at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, is a former Associated Press intern who is now an associate editor at True North Custom Publishing in Chattanooga. The Jasper native has been an active volunteer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation where she sold 3,500 “I Will Give My All for Tennessee Today” bracelets at various events on the UT campus which raised $5000 for the JDRF. Parsons, who has been playing piano since second grade, will perform “Rhapsody in Blue”.

Ms. Reagan is a senior Telecommunications major at Lee University who represented the state at September’s National Sweetheart Pageant. She hosted a fundraiser for the Volunteer Guardianship Program, which provides financial and emotional assistance to senior citizens who don’t have family members to act on their behalf. A well known area harpist, she will perform the classical piece Quando Men Vo.

Ms. Johnson is a MTSU junior majoring in Organizational Communications who wants to become a special events planner. The long term volunteer with the Boys and Girls Clubs will sing the jazz vocal “Every Time We Say Goodbye.”

Ms. Pancake, who was honored by the Exchange Club of Chattanooga for her fundraising on behalf of child abuse and neglect awareness, is the founder of the website Keep Tennessee Kids Safe. She organized an Easter weekend Cut-A-Thon with the cooperation of local salon Splash! which raised over $1500. The University of Tennessee archaeology graduate who worked as a clerk in a Knoxville law firm will sing the popular vocal “I’m A Woman”.

Ms. Wasmer, a senior at MTSU majoring in Electronic Media, shares Colburn’s career goal of becoming a news anchor. The Hixson resident and graduate of Soddy-Daisy High School is working in promotions at The Rush! She will tap dance to “Sing, Sing, Sing.”

Ms. Wasmer’s close friend and pageant roommate is Ms. Wittler as the two were members of the national championship cheerleading squad at Soddy-Daisy High.

Ms. Wittler, who could become the youngest Miss Tennessee in 38 years, is a rising sophomore at UT-Chattanooga majoring in Communications. The former Soddy-Daisy Junior Miss is the creator of Think SMART, a program which encourages young people to remain and be involved with their schools.

The nineteen year old who lists Dolly Parton as one of her role models, will perform “I Will Always Love You.”

Ms. Wittler could also be the second Soddy-Daisy resident in four years to bring the Miss Tennessee crown home. Jamie Watkins Davenport, now a pharmaceutical representative in Nashville, was the 2003 titleholder.


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