Luling will take center stage this weekend as it hosts the Miss Louisiana USA and Miss Teen Louisiana USA competitions on Friday and Saturday at the Lafon Performing Arts Center.
It marks the first time St. Charles Parish has played host to a Miss USA event, while it will also be the first time the panel of judges features the reigning Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst, and a former Miss USA, Ali Landry.
The events will begin each night (Oct. 18 and 19) at 7:30 p.m., with Friday marking the preliminary competition and Saturday the finals.
Both nights’ events will be hosted by emcee Tim Tialdo, an Emmy award winner. Kryst and Landry will be joined on the panel by reality TV star and former Miss South Carolina Teen USA Shannon Ford, as well as former Disney executives Cal Tindall and Art Green.
Landry is well known locally, a Louisiana native who earned national fame as “the Doritos girl” for her role in a 1998 Super Bowl commercial. The actress has appeared in several TV shows and films, and for the past two years has hosted an online lifestyle show, RE/SHAPE TV, which helps women over 40 navigate their way across life’s hurdles.
She and her fellow judges will choose winners based on specific criteria that includes interview, swimsuit, athletic wear and evening gown events.
The fact that the pageant will be held locally signals the effectiveness of the now fully established Lafon Center in drawing large events – and along with it a healthy number of visitors and potential business patrons. The state-of-the art facility opened in 2018 and seats more than 1,300 in its theatre.
The event also brings a broader spotlight to the region: in 2018, the Shreveport Times noted that Miss USA, which was held in the Shreveport-Bossier area, would be shown live in about 70 countries worldwide, with an expected reach of 40 million social media impressions, making for a strong economic impact.
Corey Faucheux, St. Charles Parish’s director of economic development and tourism, hopes this year’s Miss Louisiana pageant provides a boost for St. Charles Parish and the local region as a whole.
“We’re working with the event’s organizer to make sure we put our parish’s best foot forward, to make sure the contestants and judges get to visit some of the great places we have here.” — Corey Faucheux
“We’re pretty excited, not just to have it here at the Lafon Center, but to showcase the entire parish,” Faucheux said. “We’re working with the event’s organizer to make sure we put our parish’s best foot forward, to make sure the contestants and judges get to visit some of the great places we have in the parish, and for all those people who come from all over to support the contestants as well.”
He said those visitors coming in large numbers is always a plus, bringing in outside revenue to the area. He credited St. Charles Parish Public Schools for opening the center’s doors and working to bring the event here, and said the Lafon Center simply gives tourists one more reason to visit, particularly when playing host to a major event.
“We all want to leverage the facility as much as possible,” Faucheux said. “This is the first time we’ve held an event like this during my tenure, so I think it will make a nice impact. I have no reason to expect otherwise.”
Tickets may be purchased through the Lafon Performing Arts Center box office at lafonartscenter.org.