Little Miss South Carolina pageant has become a Darlington County tradition

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By Will Isgett
Guest Writer

The Little Miss South Carolina pageant, which is held each year in Hartsville at the Center Theater, has become a Darlington County tradition.

Current Director Linda Jordan and her daughter and current co-producer Dana Jordan Ditman joined with former director Diane Galloway and her daughter Aimee Galloway McElveen took the pageant over in 2001.

The pageant is one of South Carolina’s oldest systems for children and young adults; it was founded in 1971 by the late Linda Floyd, and was held in Sumter each year at the Exhibition Center and attracted many contestants from across the state – including many from right here in the Darlington County area. This year the pageant celebrates it’s 44th anniversary.

“We wanted to continue this after Linda (Floyd) passed away because it was such a big and rewarding pageant system,” Jordan said. “It also focused so much on community service and we didn’t want it to go away.”

Jordan said that her daughter, Dana Jordan Dittman was actually Wee Miss South Carolina back in 1977; both of Jordan’s grandchildren were winners before they officially took over the pageant.

This year, the pageant awarded eleven division crowns ranging from Wee Miss Tiny Tot to Royal Miss (the pageant’s oldest group) and includes awards for an overall winner of the pageant, overall princess, overall sweetheart winner, overall color and black and white photogenic awards, overall interview and evening gown awards. One of the pageant’s highest honors is the Miss South Carolina Outstanding Teen title, which is awarded to a contestant based on an essay, school grades, community service and interview.
Division awards are also given for photogenic, congeniality, producer’s choice and community service.

The pageant also honors contestants who raise money for the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. Since the pageant started a partnership with the hospital in 2002, more than $245,000 has been raised; this year’s contestants raised $38,000.

“By raising the money, it helps the contestants to build character and shows them that there is a need to give back to the community,” Jordan said. “We bring in children from all around the state to do this and in the end it’s very rewarding for not only the pageant but the hospital.”

The pageant brings in more than 1,000 people to the Hartsville area each year filling local hotels and boosting business for restaurants and businesses in the area.

Kim Cranford, manager of the Center Theater where the event is held, said this is his biggest event length-wise and he looks forward to welcoming all the visitors into the city.

“The pageant is one of the ‘top ten events” at the Center Theater, and has a huge economic impact on the City of Hartsville,” Cranford said.

This year the pageant featured a new backdrop, something it had not had in the prior 43 years. Emcee and former Miss Southern 500 and Miss South Carolina Janet Powers Roller was joined by entertainers Miss S.C. Sweet Potato Festival Teen Payton Lang, and former Little Miss South Carolina winner Marley Stokes. Stokes’ mom Candy also serves as co-producer of the pageant along with Dittman.

Winners crowned on Saturday night included:
Delaney Cranshaw, Little Miss South Carolina Overall Queen
Margaret Turner, Little Miss South Carolina
Annsley Vick Young, Miss South Carolina
Lindsey Gunter, Young Miss Teen South Carolina
Kaitlyn White, Teen Miss South Carolina
Amanda Bodie, Royal Miss South Carolina
Payton Holmes, South Carolina’s Outstanding Teen
Ally Rathbone, Little Miss South Carolina Overall Sweetheart.

Author: Jana Pye

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