(WTVM) - A long-standing tradition for the city of Columbus, the 74th annual Miss Georgia Pageant is back in the Fountain City for the 2018 competition.
Ninety-nine women and teens in Columbus are trying to take home the crown.
"It's been here since 1945 which is really the first year Columbus sent a representative from Georgia to the pageant," says Cassie Myers, vice president of media for the Miss Georgia board.
Some of the ladies competing are veterans to the competition, but for all the contestants, it will be their last time competing in the swimsuit category.
"We didn't think it was fair to eliminate swimsuit this year just because we had already allocated scholarship money for it," says Myers. "So the girls win a scholarship for $250 every night for preliminary swimsuit win. They are counting on that money for school."
The contest announcement came earlier this June. The organization will be saying "bye-bye to the bikini", as part of their campaign for the swimsuit portion after the 2018 season.
"It's a little bittersweet. The girls are about 50/50. Some are really excited that they don't have to put on a swimsuit and heels anymore, and some are really disappointed because they just felt really empowered," says Myers.
Whoever clinches the title of Miss Georgia will not be competing in swimwear this upcoming September in the Miss America Pageant. Instead. the organization says each candidate will participate in a live interactive session with the judges, where she will highlight her achievements and goals in life and how she will use her talents, passion, and ambition to perform the job of Miss America.
The organization also announced the ladies will no longer be judged on outward physical appearance, a change which the organization hopes will create a more inclusive and body positive image approach.
"One of the biggest things to remember is that once you win Miss Georgia, you are never asked to put on a swimsuit and heels again. Miss America and Miss Georgia are all about speaking to young children, speaking to civic organizations, and empowering people across the state and across America."
News Leader 9 wishes all of the ladies the best of luck.
Miss Georgia 2018 will take her title on Saturday.