Young girls in McDowell County will have the opportunity to compete in the 44th annual Little Miss McDowell (LMM) pageant coming up in March.

The event is organized and directed by McDowell High School’s NJROTC. This past week, members of the NJROTC and current Little Miss McDowell Addison Cunningham talked to girls at McDowell elementary schools about enering the pageant.

“It was a really great experience. It was so much fun getting to compete and see everybody out in the audience clapping for you,” Cunningham said to the girls.

Female members of the NJROTC are teamed up with one contestant during the week of the pageant to help them prepare for their debut. Most of the girls become bonded beyond the pageant.

“We will help you with your homework, getting dressed or whatever you need and get to be best friends. I’ve cried every year at the end of the week,” said NJROTC Executive Office Hailey Corman.

Former contestants in the audience shared their experience during previous pageants.

“It was fun. I was scared at first because it was a big crowd,” Nylla Gibson said to her classmates.

Cunningham said the best part about being Little Miss McDowell is being an inspiration to others.

“I’ve enjoyed going around and seeing people, especially the ones younger than you who come up to you and hug you and look up to you,” she said.

Cunningham’s mother Regina said the experience for her daughter has been wonderful, and she can’t believe the year is up.

“This is a positive competition. This experience was eye opening to a lot of things for her. The bonding between the girls with the other girls and the big sisters is wonderful. She still keeps in touch with her big sister,” said Regina.

This year’s theme for the pageant is “A Hawaiian Luau.” The pageant is open to girls’ age seven to 12 years old. The girls will compete in talent and evening wear. The first place winner will be crowned Little Miss McDowell and receive $400, a trophy and flowers. Second place is $300, flowers and a trophy, and third place is $200, flowers and a trophy. The cost to enter the pageant is $95, and applications are due Friday, Feb. 16. Girls must provide a 3x5 digital photo. Applications are available in the front office of each elementary school, and at the NJROTC office at McDowell High School where they are to be turned in.

A parents meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8 in the NJROTC building at McDowell High School. The pageant will take place on March 10 at 5 p.m. at East McDowell Middle School. For more information call 652-7920 or email

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