Miss Illinois 2020 delayed 1 year; City of Marion impacted

Postponed events impact local cities and their economies
Updated: May. 18, 2020 at 9:29 PM CDT
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MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - The Miss Illinois Scholarship Organization announced that the Miss Illinois 2020 Competition, previously scheduled for June in Marion, has been delayed to next year because of the nationwide impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public health.

The action follows the Miss America Organization’s announcement last week that the Miss America 2021 competition, which would have been held in December 2020, would be delayed.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia, which send state winners to the Miss America competition, have been advised to delay their qualifying competitions.

Miss Illinois is usually crowned in June at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center from among regional winners throughout the state. However, this year it’s postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic.

City of Marion Mayor Mike Absher said the changing of events is really hard on the city. “This is hurting, it’s hurting everybody, not just the city,” Absher said. “Miss Illinois is just one example of the causalities for the city of Marion and really for southern Illinois as a region that we are not able to host that.”

The civic center is a city-owned facility that closed down with the Illinois governors order. “It affects the hotels, it affects the restaurants, it affects our pride because we are going to miss having them. but that goes to be said for every other show that we’d had to postpone as well,” Absher said.

The current Miss Illinois Ariel Beverly and the 22 contestants are also feeling the impact. Beverly is trying to support the hopefuls by working with them individually.

“It’s a really crappy situation in all reality," Beverly said in response to the changes. “I’m trying to just keep it going, trying not make it seem like they need to halt, ‘oh no we have another year to wait’, seeing it as another year to grow and really improve.”

All of the winners of regional contests held earlier this year will still get an opportunity to compete for the Miss Illinois crown in 2021.

Ariel Beverly, who was crowned Miss Illinois 2019 in Marion last June, competed for the crown of Miss America 2020 last December.

She will continue her reign as Miss Illinois until next year’s event.

“We as a board support Miss America’s decision to postpone the state and national programs for the year. We believe that this will give us a better opportunity to plan a program for our participants that is worthy of their efforts as local contestants. We want the candidates to get the full Miss Illinois experience, but above all else, we want to ensure the safety of all involved and the public. When I told the contestants about the postponement, I was overwhelmed by how well they took the news. The young women who represent our program throughout Illinois embody strength and resilience,”says Ashley Hatfield, director of the Miss Illinois Scholarship Organization.

The Miss America Organization is working with the Miss Illinois organization and other state qualifying organizations to amend rules and eligibility for the 2020 and 2021 competition years.

As for the Mayor Absher, he said he hopes things turn around soon. “We’re either going to have to have a vaccine which makes people feel more comfortable to attend those events, or frankly, we’re going to have to stand up and realize we’re going to have to live with it,” he said.

The Miss Illinois board has decided to make June 14-19, 2021 the dates of next year’s pageant.

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