Preliminary competition in Mississippi's Junior Miss program kicked off Thursday night at Meridian's Temple Theatre.
More than 40 young ladies are competing for the title of and the right to move on to the America's Junior Miss in 2010.
Thursday was spent making final preparations for the first of three nights of competition.
"We will have different groups competing. Some groups will be competing in talent tonight. The other half will be competing in self expression and physical fitness," said state chairman, Dr. Marc Fisher.
The winner of this year's program will succeed Sidney Anthony, who won first runner-up at the national program earlier this year.