Although Polk County has rebranded itself from its former nickname, “Imperial Polk County”, the tremendous success of the recent Miss Florida Pageant reaffirms that Polk is deserving of that royal moniker. The Miss Florida Pageant held at the Lakeland Center June 27 - July 2, 2016, was the culmination of more than a year of work and a supreme team effort on the part of PCTSM staff, the City of Lakeland, The Lakeland Center, Polk County BoCC and Miss Florida Pageant officials.

Miss Florida 2016 Courtney Sexton
Miss Florida 2016 Courtney Sexton

In addition to the Miss Florida Pageant on July 2, several other competitions, meetings and promotional media events took place before and during the five-day event, including the “Meet and Greet” day with the contestants in downtown Lakeland, The City of Lakeland’s Proclamation at City Hall on June 29, the Miss Florida Outstanding Teen Pageant, the Prince and Princess mentoring program and the preliminary rounds of the Miss Florida Pageant. Press coverage of the event ramped up as the week progressed and continued in the days following the finale on July 2nd, with several appearances by the newly crowned Miss Florida on TV stations across the state.

View a Sampling of Coverage Online

Miss Florida 2016 on Fox 13
Miss Florida 2016 on Fox 13

County Commissioner Todd Dantzler, who was highly involved in the recruiting process to bring the pageant from St. Petersburg to Lakeland, welcomed the audience for the final competition and expressed the sentiments of all involved in the recruiting process when he said, “We are pleased to be the new home of the Miss Florida Pageant.” 

The pageant, and the events leading up to the final evening, have a projected economic impact of more than $2 million to Polk County and has resulted in untold thousands of dollars in valuable earned media coverage from publications and broadcast outlets throughout Florida. 

Miss Florida Pageant representatives, and city and county officials, were extremely pleased with the results of this first year of the pageant being held in Lakeland and all look forward to continued success in coming years.

The new Miss Florida, Courtney Sexton – who competed as Miss Orlando – will now represent Florida in the annual Miss America Pageant, to be held in Atlantic City and broadcast live on ABC on Sunday, September 11.

Read more about the 2016 pageant on our blog