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Local beauty contest winners head to state pageant

Miss Troup winners head to Miss Georgia competitions

Barbara Henigin

Daily News correspondent

From left, Miss Troup County Paula Smith, Troup County pageant director Judy Neighbors and Miss Troup County Outstanding Teen Jenna Groom pose for a photo Sunday during a send off at First Baptist Church on the Square for the contestants to the Miss Georgia and Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen pageants.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/06/web1_web0606MissTroupSendoff01-1.jpgFrom left, Miss Troup County Paula Smith, Troup County pageant director Judy Neighbors and Miss Troup County Outstanding Teen Jenna Groom pose for a photo Sunday during a send off at First Baptist Church on the Square for the contestants to the Miss Georgia and Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen pageants.

Barbara Henigin | Special to the Daily News

Miss Troup County Paula Smith, left, and Miss Troup County Outstanding Teen Jenna Groom pose for a photo at Sunday’s send-off gathering at First Baptist Church on the Square. The two were celebrated as they left to compete in Miss Georgia and Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/06/web1_web0606MissTroupSendoff02-1.jpgMiss Troup County Paula Smith, left, and Miss Troup County Outstanding Teen Jenna Groom pose for a photo at Sunday’s send-off gathering at First Baptist Church on the Square. The two were celebrated as they left to compete in Miss Georgia and Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen.

Barbara Henigin | Special to the Daily News

LaGRANGE — About 40 people gathered Sunday afternoon at the First Baptist Church on the Square to wish Miss Troup County Paula Smith, 19, and Miss Troup County Outstanding Teen Jenna Groom, 15, good luck at the upcoming Miss Georgia competitions. The young women will be competing in Columbus from June 14 to 18.

Both Smith and Groom were excited about the upcoming competitions and expressed what they have been experiencing since they won their current titles at the Jan. 17 Miss Troup County competitions.

Smith counted going to visit students in local schools and speaking to them as one of her most memorable experiences. Groom cited the times that she got to speak with Girl Scout groups, especially the younger Daisies, as among her most cherished experiences.

“It is amazing to see how many people know about the pageant, how many people are supportive of the pageant and how many people are rooting for me.” Smith said. “Judy and Jim (Neighbors), the directors of the (Troup County) pageant are absolutely amazing, hands on and welcoming, they are like a second set of parents to me.”

This is the 42nd year that Judy and Jim Neighbors have been involved with the Troup County pageants and Judy Neighbors is very impressed with this year’s Troup County representatives.

“These two young ladies are wonderful. They are so likable and they do anything that you ask, they really are just wonderful,” she said.

Angela Anderson acted as the official host for Sunday’s event, introducing the young women and then keeping the afternoon’s agenda moving. Smith and Groom started off by participating in a meet and greet with the audience. They then proceeded to give a preview of what they will be doing, and wearing, at the Miss Georgia competitions.

Attendees took pictures of the young women wearing their gowns, interview suits and Smith’s bathing suit and Groom’s workout attire, but all were warned that no pictures were to be used or posted until after the Columbus competitions. Judy Neighbors explained that nothing could be given away to the other competitors.

Both Groom and Smith had positive things to say about their pageant experiences.

“There are many misconceptions of what pageants are all about, but I like to think that the Miss Troup County Pageant, the Miss Georgia Pageant and the Miss America Pageants have all done a really good job of making it about your talent, your personality and who you are as a person,” Groom said. “It is about who you really are, not just on the outside but what’s inside too.”

Added Smith: “Any organization that spends its time empowering and uplifting young women is a relevant organization, and something that is worth being a part of,” Smith said.

Anderson, along with the guests, wished Smith luck in her pursuit of the Miss Georgia title and Groom in securing the Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen title in the upcoming Columbus competitions.

Reach the LaGrange Daily News at 706-884-7311.