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Former Miss South Dakota brings life back to Miss Mitchell pageant

There's never been a Miss Mitchell in Tessa Dee's lifetime. But now she's the one to bring the pageant back to the Palace City after the Miss Mitchell competition took an estimated 35-year hiatus. Miss Mitchell and Miss Mitchell Outstanding Teen ...

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There's never been a Miss Mitchell in Tessa Dee's lifetime.

But now she's the one to bring the pageant back to the Palace City after the Miss Mitchell competition took an estimated 35-year hiatus.

Miss Mitchell and Miss Mitchell Outstanding Teen will take place at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Mitchell School District Performing Arts Center. Tickets cost $5. Both winners will move on to Miss South Dakota and Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen competition this summer. Winners of the state competition will move on to Miss America later this year.

"As far as I know, it hasn't been here for about 35 years," Dee said. "This is the first time in a long time that there's been a Miss America preliminary in Mitchell. And I'm happy to bring it back."

Dee was named Miss South Dakota in 2013, which she said was "completely life changing." Never an interest in pageantry, Dee said she decided to compete on a whim, and fell in love with the competition. Dee also earned the title of Miss South Dakota USA in 2017.

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The scholarship money she earned from winning helped pay for her school and additional student loans, and she said now it's her turn to give back.

"I wanted to pay it forward to other women who were just like me," said Dee, who is now the executive director of Miss Mitchell. "So because of that, I thought, 'Well, there's nothing in my hometown community like this,' and I wanted to bring it back."

Contestants for the Miss Mitchell pageant must be between 17 and 25 years old and be a senior in high school or older. Contestants for the outstanding teen competition must be between 13 and 17 years old and not a senior in high school.

So far, Dee said there have been several area women signed up for the pageant. Signing up for Miss Mitchell will continue through Wednesday and interested individuals can contact Dee by emailing tessa.dee@misssd.org or visiting her website, tessadee.com/miss-mitchell.

"I'm just really excited to bring it to this community," Dee said. "I think Mitchell has an outstanding reputation when it comes to performing arts, sports, athletics and things like that. And I think a Miss America preliminary can be the next big thing here."

The community support, according to Dee, has been phenomenal and a sign that Miss Mitchell was meant to make its way back.

Four of the five judges are local, Dee said. The judges include Alex Hoffman Bisson, former Miss South Dakota; Kyra Korver Mentele, former Miss South Dakota; Alexis Kolb, former contestant, makeup artist and former Miss South Dakota USA; Mike Vehle, former state senator; and Andrew Paulson, a Mitchell native active in performing arts and show choir.

Miss Mitchell contestants will compete in a talent, evening gown, interview and swimsuit competitions. Miss Mitchell Outstanding Teen will be the same, but instead of swimsuits will wear active wear, Dee said.

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The competition will also host a princess program for ages 5 to 10. The noncompetitive program will allows girls to complete a service project, have time on stage with the older competitors, be confident and also make friends, Dee said.

"I'm excited that this is the first year back, but hopefully we will create a great presence with the Miss America organization here in Mitchell and continue that for many years to come," Dee said.

Tessa Dee, Mitchell resident and current Miss South Dakota USA, will be leaving May 1 for the Miss USA competition in Las Vegas. The competition will air live on FOX on May 14. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Mitchell resident and current Miss South Dakota Tessa Dee will be leaving for Las Vegas on May 1 as she will be competing for the title of Miss USA on May 14. (Matt Gade / Republic)

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