County, City Officials Finalizing Long Term Deal with Miss Florida Pageant

Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing (PCTSM), in partnership with the City of Lakeland, announced today that the Miss Florida Pageant will be held in Lakeland, at the Lakeland Center, in 2016 and for the foreseeable future as county and city officials are finalizing a long term deal with the organization. The pageant, a Florida tradition that will hold its 86th installment at the Lakeland Center’s Youkey Theatre June 27-July 2, 2016, was previously held in St. Petersburg for the past 11 years. PCTSM, county officials and officials from the Lakeland Center worked to recruit the event to Polk County and are finalizing plans to keep the pageant in Polk County long term.

In addition to the Miss Florida Pageant, several other competitions and meetings take place during the five-day event, including the Miss Florida Outstanding Teen Pageant, the Prince and Princess mentoring program and the preliminary rounds of the Miss Florida Pageant. The winner of the Miss Florida Pageant goes on to represent the state at the annual Miss America Pageant, held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. MaryKatherine Fechtel, of Leesburg, will represent Florida this year during the September 13 event, which will air live nationally on ABC.

The Miss Florida Scholarship Pageant, an official preliminary to the Miss America Pageant, recently celebrated 85 years of making dreams possible for young women in Florida competing in this esteemed program. The Miss America Organization, a 501(c) 4 non-profit corporation, provides millions of dollars in annual college scholarship assistance making it the largest scholarship program for women in the United States.

Miss Florida Scholarship Pageant, Inc. Executive Director and President Mary Sullivan said, “We are grateful to Mayor Howard Wiggs, County Commissioner Todd Dantzler, and the staff of Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing and The Lakeland Center for coming together and creating a mutually beneficial partnership to welcome the Miss Florida Pageant to Lakeland and Polk County. The future of our organization is very bright and we can’t wait to share the next exciting years with our partners in Lakeland and Polk County.” Sullivan added, “Our 2016 state contestants, families, pageant supporters, friends, volunteers and sponsors will meet in our new home to celebrate what we are confident will be our best pageant ever.” The 2016 event will take place at the Lakeland Center, with the preliminaries and finals, which are open to the public, being held at the Youkey Theatre.

“We are pleased to be the new home of the Miss Florida Pageant,” said County Commissioner Todd Dantzler who was involved in the recruiting process, “this is a first class organization that truly cares about the participants and their future.” Each year, the Miss Florida Pageant awards more than $50,000 in scholarships to participants. Lakeland Mayor, Howard Wiggs said, “Lakeland is pleased to host this prestigious event. I join Mary Sullivan in applauding the vision and leadership of Todd Dantzler and the tourism and sports marketing team headed by Mark Jackson.”

For more information, contact Kris Keprios at 863-551-4727 or