Ashleigh Valerie Johnson is new Miss Natchez Hospitality

Published 5:57 pm Sunday, March 3, 2024

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NATCHEZ — Ashleigh Valerie Johnson was crowned Miss Natchez Hospitality Sunday afternoon.

She will represent Natchez and Adams County in the Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant in July, where she will compete for more than $100,000 in scholarship and other prizes.

Johnson is the daughter of Valerie Meng and David Johnson.

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A small but mighty crowd cheered on the three pageant contestants and danced, sang and laughed along with emcees Tony Fields and Ashley Murray.

The pageant was hosted by Pretty Girls with Brains, its inaugural competition.

Ainsley Camille Wills was named runner-up. She is the daughter of Molly Speed and Gary Wills. Lena Unga, daughter of Tomasi Unga and Rebecca Fielder, also competed.

Contestants were interviewed by judges on Thursday evening, which accounted for 40 percent of the told points in the competition. In addition, on Sunday, contestants presented a “commercial” about Natchez, which accounted for 15 percent of total points, answered a question from the emcees worth 15 percent, and modeled an evening gown of their own choosing, which was worth 30 percent.

Contest judges were Gabrielle Day, a high school science teacher and event coordinator; Dorisa Cook, a retired Ferriday, Louisiana, educator; and Diane DuPont, Natchez civic and business leader.

The new Miss Natchez Hospitality Ashleigh Valerie Johnson is a full-time student at Copiah Lincoln Community College in Natchez and plans to pursue a career in epidemiology. She was crowned by 2023 Miss Natchez Hospitality Damira McGruder.

Runner-up Ainsley Camille Wills attends Cathedral High School and plans to attend Mississippi State University next fall, majoring in communications with minors in broadcasting and journalism.

Lena Unga is a full-time student at the Alcorn State School of Nursing in Natchez, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s in nursing degree. Unga plans to become a neonatal intensive care nurse or a flight nurse in the U.S. Air Force.