Kerri Arnold is Miss Tennessee Volunteer after beating out 35 other women vying for the title in Jackson on Saturday night. Immediately after being crowned, Arnold was met with countless interviews and an escort by the Tennessee Highway Patrol who whisked her away to the local DoubleTree Hotel. On Sunday, Arnold met with her newly named business manager and held a press conference introducing her as the first winner of the Miss Tennessee Volunteer crowned of the newly formed pageant.
Arnold, the former Miss Scenic City, is a lifelong resident of Holladay and the youngest daughter of Keith and Karren Arnold.
Arnold said, “Saturday night was a dream come true. I set a goal a long time ago and all that hard work paid off. I am your new Miss Tennessee Volunteer and I am truly over the moon excited. I could not have done it without my wonderful directors, coaches, friends and family. I want to say thank you to everyone who has called, texted, or sent congratulations and well wishes. I feel so incredibly blessed to be loved and supported by so many. I am so excited to work hard and try to fill the shoes that Christine Williamson has left.”
Arnold’s dad, Keith Arnold said the entire family was ecstatic and they could not thank the hometown community enough for all of their support and backing of his daughter through the years. “Our family has come away with amazing memories from this entire experience,” Keith said. “Kerri is unbelievably humbled by everyone’s support and she is thrilled at the prospect of representing the state this year.” He finished with, “After they announced her name, we all cried tears of joy and were honestly speechless the moment they placed the crown on her head. We are so proud of Kerri and the support of Benton County.”
While Arnold dazzled the crowd in a beautiful green ensemble during the evening gown competition and a bright pink bikini in the fitness category, it was when she sang “A Broken Wing” a song written by James House, Sam Hogin and Phil Barnhart and made famous by country music artist Martina McBride, that she solidified her position from many viewpoints.
Arnold hit the high notes as eloquently as any famous singer could, leaving the more than 40 supporting family members and friends beaming with pride and all rising on their feet to cheer.
Arnold won the crowd over when she was asked to demonstrate a “live auction” as her on-stage question and she did so with the ease of a seasoned auctioneer.
Arnold was named Top 15 as the crowd entered the Carl Perkins Civic Center for Saturday night’s final competition. Shortly thereafter, she was called out as Top 10. It was when the count dwindled down to the Top 5 that supporters were overcome with adrenaline. All the while, Arnold kept her poise and made eye contact with the judging panel.
Arnold’s final on-stage question asked about female empowerment and how she has showed it in her own life. Arnold responded, “I have been empowered in my own life by getting out of my box. I had no idea there were so many people hungry in my own community and looking for a way to find food every day. That’s when I got involved with Second Harvest Food Bank and I was empowered to continue that work and get others involved as well.”
One-by-one the last five contestants learned their final placements until it was down to two, Arnold and Miss Jackson Kailey Jordan.
History making pageant
For the first time in the history of the state pageant, Benton County had not only one, but two contestants in the statewide pageant. In addition to Arnold, Holladay resident, Kailey Duffy also competed. Duffy represented Miss Greater Weakley County. The two ladies grew up together attending Holladay First United Methodist Church and graduated from Camden Central High School the same year.
The Miss Tennessee Volunteer Pageant
The Miss Tennessee Volunteer Pageant broke away from the Miss Tennessee pageant late last year after the Miss America pageant fell under new leadership and disagreed with the direction of the Jackson based pageant. In addition, the Miss America Organization also withdrew licenses from at least seven other states that disagreed with new regulations. The original Miss Tennessee in Jackson under Executive Director Allison DeMarcus, has now become Miss Tennessee Volunteer and Miss Tennessee under the Miss America Organization is doing a separate pageant in Knoxville. The winner of the Knoxville pageant will advance to Miss America, while Arnold, the winner of Miss Tennessee Volunteer will now resume the role under the Governor’s Character of Education and receive a $25,000 scholarship, among other prizes.
The Miss Tennessee Volunteer Pageant will remain in Jackson at the Carl Perkins Civic Center.