Roanoke leaders not concerned as Miss Virginia pageant moves to Lynchburg

Pageant has been held in Roanoke for 54 years

ROANOKE, Va. – After spending 54 years in Roanoke, the Miss Virginia pageant is moving from the Star City to the Hill City.

City officials say the annual event will be held at Liberty University in Lynchburg.

For more than half a century, the Miss Virginia pageant has brought thousands of people and millions of dollars to Roanoke. But according to Roanoke city leaders, the pageant's time in the Star City has come to an end.

They found out about the plans to move the pageant to Lynchburg at the end of last week.

"Tourism is big business for this region, and there are a lot of components to it. We believe that the Miss Virginia pageant was certainly a component of that," Catherine Fox, Virginia's Blue Ridge vice president of public affairs and destination development, said.

Fox says the pageant generated about $900,000 in economic impact in 2016, yet those numbers are down.

"Over the last couple of years, (the pageant) has not had the opportunity to be televised, and that has impacted the pageant to some degree and our reach and getting people to know about this region and the fact that we've been hosting it for years. So there has been a bit of decline not only in attendance, but also in visibility," Fox said.

Tourism leaders are already looking for ways to make up for that nearly million dollar loss.

"What we hope for is something more valley-wide or region-wide," Fox said.

Fox says the new location means new possibilities for everyone.

"We’re excited that it's going to have new life at Liberty and it's exciting for us to have a new opportunity to fill that with either sports, new sports initiatives, which we have a VBR, Virginia's Blue Ridge sports initiative, as well as conferences and even have medical meetings and working with neuroscience," Fox said.

Pageant organizers are holding a news conference Thursday morning to discuss the move.