ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — It’s time to bring out the crowns and sashes!

On Thursday, June 17, the Miss Virginia competition kicked off its three-day event at the Berglund Center. This year will mark the 66th time the center has hosted the statewide competition — but not consecutively.

In 2018, the competition moved to Liberty University in Lynchburg. Then last year, the coronavirus pandemic cancelled the event.

Shannon Bradford, a Louisa County resident whose daughter is a contestant in Miss Virginia, said she’s glad officials brought it back to Roanoke.

“I am super excited that we are back in Roanoke for Miss Virginia especially after [COVID-19] and being away for a couple of years,” said Bradford. “The Star City is a very welcoming and beautiful place.”

The City of Roanoke had been the home of the Miss Virginia competition since 1953, until certain factors voted against it.

“There were a number of factors that involved our move. [For example], we partnered with one of our educational partners,” said M.C. Gravely, executive director of the Miss Virginia Organization.

Gravely adds feedback from stakeholders led the event to be located back to Roanoke, all while COVID-19 vaccinations were rolled out and restrictions were lifted.

“Being able to reward these young women for their patience and resilience during this pandemic has just been really, really rewarding,” said Gravely.

Meanwhile, officials at the Berglund Center couldn’t be happier for the competition’s return.

For Robert Knight, director of sales and marketing, this marks a chance to dress the part and meet new people again.

“It’s probably been a year and a half since I put on a shirt and tie,” said Knight.

The Miss Virginia competition is already anticipated to be the Berglund Center’s biggest event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s so awesome that we get to do it with this event that’s coming back to Roanoke with such an historic tie and traditions to the area,” said Knight.

This brings a sense of normalcy for which Virginia residents are more than ready.

“It feels great to be back,” said Knight. “You don’t really know how much you miss it until you don’t get to do it for awhile.”

The Miss Virginia competition schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday, June 17: Preliminaries
  • Friday, June 18: Outstanding Teen Competition
  • Saturday, June 19: Finals

The Miss Virginia Scholarship Organization has already announced the following winners in the preliminary competitions:

  • Act 1:
    • Talent: Miss Roanoke Valley, Dominga Murray, with pop vocal
    • On Stage Interview/Social Impact Pitch: Miss Roanoke Valley, Dominga Murray, with the social impact initiative of Hunger Has a Cure
  • Act 2:
    • Talent: Miss Greater Richmond, Aria Austin, with classical vocal
    • On Stage Interview/Social Impact Pitch: Miss Arlington, Sarah Robinson, with the social impact initiative of The Good News

The preliminary talent winners each receive a $1,000 scholarship while the preliminary “On Stage Interview” winners each receive a $500 scholarship. However, organizers say the preliminary winners may or may not be among the 10 semifinalists, who will be named at the start of Saturday’s show.

For more information or tickets to the competition, visit the Berglund Center’s website here.

For breaking news delivered to you, subscribe to WFXR’s breaking news email list