COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Today marks the beginning of a journey as candidates from across the Peach State vy to become the next Miss Georgia and Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen. 

Candidates took to the RiverCenter stage Tuesday evening for the Preliminary Competition. Teen candidates took to the stage to show off their special talents and “Miss” candidates took to the podium to answer interview questions from the judges. 

The competition was postponed last year due to the pandemic, and candidates have been waiting to finally compete. Many of them have had their titles for two years. 

“That is a tremendous task in and of itself,” Trina Pruitt, CEO and Executive Director of the Miss Georgia Scholarship Competition, said. “Focusing for two years — knowing that this is what happens here in Columbus — for them to work hard and to stay the course, so many of them were so adaptable.”

The program isn’t just about spotlights, sparkles and dazzling smiles; the girls are competing for a chance to win scholarships to help advance them economically and professionally. The young lady crowned Miss Georgia will represent the state of Georgia at the Miss America competition. 

“The Miss America competition is one of the largest sources of scholarship for women in the world… this week will certainly be an opportunity for our young ladies to earn scholarships to further their education and to meet any goals they have established for themselves,” Chief Operations Officer Jim Montgomery said. 

The competition is also a big source of revenue for the city of Columbus. The organization started a program called Miss Georgia Gives Back,  where titleholders could feature sponsors and community members who contribute to the scholarship competition. 

“This allowed us the opportunity to give back to restaurants and merchants here in Columbus, where we were able to come in and see each other and dine and enjoy attractions here in Columbus in October,” Pruitt said. 

The girls and women will engage with the public in locations across Columbus throughout this competition week. Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen Finals will be on Friday at 7:30 pm and Miss Georgia finals will be on Saturday at 7 pm at the Rivercenter. 

You can watch our livestream of the event on Saturday or call into the RiverCenter to secure your in-person tickets. 

Here are the winners after the first night of preliminary competition:

Preliminary talent winner: Miss Greater Atlanta’s Outstanding Teen Catherine Kitchens

Her talent was playing “What a Wonderful World” on the harp. Her hometown is Sandy Springs, Ga., and she attends North Springs High School. Her social impact initiative is “Promoting Global Friendships.”

Evening wear and on-stage question: Miss Atlanta’s Outstanding Teen Anna Kate Robinson 

Her hometown is Wrightsville, Ga. She attends Brentwood School. Her social impact initiative is “Nothing Beats a Healthy Heart.” Her career ambition is to attend the University of Georgia and become a public interest lawyer. 

On-stage Interview: Miss Georgia Candidate Olivia McMillan

She is a graduate of The Juilliard School with a Bachelor of Music degree. Her social impact initiative is “Fighting the Confidence Crisis by Empowering Young Women to Love Themselves Unapologetically and be Confident in Their Abilities.” She is Miss Warner Robins and was Miss America’s Outstanding Teen in 2015.

Preliminary talent competition: Rosa Campos, Miss Rome 

She sang “Let Me Be Your Star/Don’t Forget Me” from the Broadway Show “Smash.” Her social impact initiative is “Diverse. Inclusive. Together.”