ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — More than a dozen young women from across the Commonwealth have gathered in the Star City to compete for a very special title that comes with its own crown: Miss Virginia 2022.

Over the course of three nights, titleholders from around Virginia are showing off their talents; their Social Impact Initiatives; their interview skills; and, of course, their glamorous gowns at the Berglund Center.

This marks the 67th time the Roanoke facility has hosted the statewide competition — but not consecutively.

The Star City had been the home of the Miss Virginia competition since 1953, until certain factors, like the coronavirus pandemic, interfered with that. The competition then made its grand return to the Berglund Center in June 2021.

However, before Miss Virginia 2022 is crowned on Saturday, June 25, WFXR News’ Colleen Guerry decided to speak with Miss Virginia 2021, Tatum Sheppard, about her past year representing the Commonwealth, as well as her feelings about giving away her crown this weekend and her plans for the future.

CG: Tell me how your year has been as Miss Virginia.

CG: What has been your proudest achievement as Miss Virginia?

CG: What about your favorite moment over the past year?

CG: How do you want to be remembered as Miss Virginia? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

CG: How does it feel knowing that you’re just days away from passing your crown to another young woman?

CG: What advice do you have for the young women competing for the crown this week?

Here is a list of the contestants vying to become Sheppard’s successor as the new Miss Virginia:

  • Miss Arlington: Victoria Chuah
    • Social Impact Initiative: “4A: Awareness & Advocacy for Adults with Autism”
    • Talent: Ballet en pointe
  • Miss Blue Ridge: Carlehr Swanson
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Bridging the Divide: Music is Unity”
    • Talent: Pop piano/vocal
  • Miss Chesapeake: Dejah Blowe
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Diversity and Inclusion”
    • Talent: Percussion solo
  • Miss Commonwealth: Tia Monet Flores
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Master Your Mind: Achieving with Anxiety”
    • Talent: Musical theatre
  • Miss Dominion: Ava Braatz
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Human Rights”
    • Talent: Monologue
  • Miss Fauquier: Alexia Williams
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Peter Pan Syndrome”
    • Talent: Broadway vocal
  • Miss Greater Charlottesville: Sarah Robinson
    • Social Impact Initiative: “The Good News”
    • Talent: Broadway vocal
  • Miss Greater Richmond: Faith Allen
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Faith’s Focus: Fighting Childhood Illiteracy”
    • Talent: Contemporary piano
  • Miss Hampton-Newport News: Dominga Murray
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Hunger Has a Cure”
    • Talent: Pop vocal
  • Miss Mecklenburg: Taylor Campbell
    • Social Impact Initiative: “EmpowHER: Inspiring Young Women to Lead”
    • Talent: Tap dance
  • Miss Mountain Empire: Gabrielle Majors
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Be a SOUPer Hero”
    • Talent: Saxophone
  • Miss New River Valley: Erika Allen
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Pinky Promise Pledge of Kindness”
    • Talent: Classical piano
  • Miss Piedmont Region: Marissa Murdock
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Preparing the Next Generation: Life Skills into Life Lessons”
    • Talent: Pop vocal
  • Miss Roanoke Valley: Isabella Jessee
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Livesaving Techniques”
    • Talent: Classical violin
  • Miss Shenandoah Valley: Katie Rose
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Bridging the Generations”
    • Talent: Jazz en pointe
  • Miss Skyline Drive: Annika Suh
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Full STEAM Ahead: Adding the Arts to STEM Education”
    • Talent: Classical violin
  • Miss Southwest Virginia: Kendall Parrett
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Unite to Fight, I am Type 1 Strong”
    • Talent: Pop vocal
  • Miss Virginia Beach: Heather Madden
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Creating Healthy Cities”
    • Talent: Speed painting

Meanwhile, the following young women are competing to take on the role of Miss Virginia’s Outstanding Teen from the 2021 titleholder, Ella Strickland:

  • Arlington: Hannah Hearn
    • Social Impact Initiative: “SOS: Sources of Strength”
    • Talent: Spoken word
  • Blue Ridge: Cassandra Hugh
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Dreaming Differently”
    • Talent: Baton
  • Chesapeake: Susanna Shedd
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Safeguarding the Future of Medicine”
    • Talent: Cello
  • Commonwealth: Cassidy Lee
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Operation Smile”
    • Talent: Musical theatre dance
  • Dominion: Phoenix Moore
    • Social Impact Initiative: “L.O.V.E.: Lead. Opportunity. Volunteer. Everyone.”
    • Talent: Martial arts
  • Fauquier: Ashlynn Haigler
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Let’s Be Fare: Food Allergy Research and Education”
    • Talent: Clogging
  • Greater Charlottesville: McKay Magness
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Mind Your Mind”
    • Talent: Classical harp
  • Greater Richmond: Amanda Asbergs
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Helping Homeless Companion Animals”
    • Talent: Pop vocal
  • Hampton-Newport News: Laura Beier
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Embrace and Include: Mentoring Youth with Disabilities through Dance Education”
    • Talent: Tap dance
  • Mecklenburg: Emily Ezell
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Racing for a COVID Cure”
    • Talent: Irish step dance
  • Mountain Empire: Kya Pruitt
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Let’s Talk About It”
    • Talent: Vocal
  • New River Valley: Abigail Long
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Hit Like a Girl: Women’s Self Defense”
    • Talent: Mixed martial arts
  • Piedmont Region: Amarisee Coward
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Goal Setting for Girls: Changing Our World One Girl at a Time”
    • Talent: Vocal
  • Roanoke Valley: Ayana Johnson
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Readiness to Empower, Advocate, and Diminish Hopelessness in Chronic Illness”
    • Talent: Musical theatre dance
  • Shenandoah Valley: Grace Clarke
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Leading Youth through Recovery”
    • Talent: Dance
  • Skyline Drive: Amelia Anderson
    • Social Impact Initiative: “A View From Above: Soaring to Your Dreams”
    • Talent: Musical theatre vocal
  • Southwest Virginia: Allyson Lewis
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Chick Chat: Uniting Children in a Divided World”
    • Talent: Pop vocal
  • Virginia Beach: Sarah Carter
    • Social Impact Initiative: “Operation Underdogs: Serving Those Who Serve Us”
    • Talent: Jazz dance

The competition for Miss Virginia 2022 and Miss Virginia’s Outstanding Teen 2022 will be taking place on the following dates:

  • Thursday, June 23: Preliminaries at 7:30 p.m. (results available here)
  • Friday, June 24: Preliminaries at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 25: Finals at 7 p.m.

You can buy tickets to one or all of the events by following this link.

The contestants will also take part in the ‘Show Us Your Shoes’ Parade around the Hotel Roanoke at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Meanwhile, after Saturday night’s finals, Sheppard will be passing on her crown and her sash, and moving on to her next chapter in life — a national tour of “Crusade: The Musical.” She says she will be going directly into her desired career as an actor thanks to the funding she received from the Miss Virginia and Miss America organizations that went toward her musical theatre degree at Liberty University.

WFXR News also asked Sheppard what advice she would give to the girls who want to vie for the Miss Virginia crown when they grow up. This was her answer:

If you’re interested in participating in one of the local Miss Virginia competitions, you can find more information on the Miss Virginia website.