Who will be Anderson's next Junior Miss?

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One of the area's most popular events returns to the Anderson County Middle School auditorium stage April 12 when 21 girls vie for the title of Anderson County Junior Miss.

The winner will be eligible to compete in January for the 2009 Kentucky Junior Miss title.

The event, now in its 27th year, focuses on academics and provides scholarship money for the winner. That focus is what makes it so popular, organizer Sherry Hall said Tuesday morning.

"Anderson County has a strong, distinguished history for Junior Miss," Hall said. "It's so popular because it's for the well-rounded young woman and academics."

For all of its popularity, however, Anderson County has yet to produce a Kentucky Junior Miss title, Hall said.

"We've had some runners-up and had some finalists," she said.

One girl with ties to Anderson County did win in the 1970s, Hall said. The late Lydia Hodson, whose married name was Lydia Copeland and whose father was principal at Saffell Street School, won the contest and went on to compete for America's Junior Miss.

"I remember watching that on TV," Hall said. "My mother let me stay up late."

The theme for this year's event is "Lights, camera, action." The event will be based around great movie songs.

One of the evening's highlights will be a performance by last year's Anderson County Junior Miss, Molly Kays.

To be eligible for the Anderson County pageant, girls must be in their junior year in school, including those in private and home schools, and must be residents of Anderson County.

There is no qualifying pageant or fee to enter.

The pageant begins at 7 p.m. at the middle school. Doors will open at 6:30.

The girls will be judged on their academic abilities, personal expression, talent and physical fitness. Also, the judges will interview the girls on current events and personal stances on the world today.

The same criteria are used for the state and national competitions, Hall said.

Tickets are $10 at the door.