Forty-four contestants from across Arkansas will vie to succeed Jonesboro's Claudia Raffo for the title of Miss Arkansas on Saturday, June 15 at the 82nd Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant at the Robinson Center.

Forty-four contestants from across Arkansas will vie to succeed Jonesboro's Claudia Raffo for the title of Miss Arkansas on Saturday, June 15 at the 82nd Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant at the Robinson Center.
This year's 2019 Miss Arkansas pageant arrives as the first under the new "Miss America 2.0" format, introduced by national pageant officials last year. Categories will include Interview, Talent, On Stage Interview, and a combined "Social Impact/Evening Wear" category.
As last year's 2018 Miss Arkansas pageant commenced, the Miss America Pageant officials had announced the elimination of the traditional swimsuit competition, and additionally, said that the evening gown competition will be modified and reduced in significance.
Last year's Miss Arkansas pageant was the last to include a "Lifestyle and Fitness" category as the swimsuit competition
Raffo, the outgoing 2018 Miss Arkansas, had won a swimsuit preliminary last year on her way to winning the crown. She also won a swimsuit preliminary the previous year in 2017.
Last year also saw a rare three-way tie in the swimsuit preliminaries between Miss Apple Blossom Kelley Brown, Miss ASU Cori Keller, and Miss Grand Prairie Charlee Carter, all named co-winners.
Another swimsuit competition winner in 2018 was Miss Southern Arkansas University Reagan Grubbs, who is returning in 2019 as the current Miss Arkansas River.
In an interview last year, Grubbs said "I have no issue with the swimsuits or being on stage in one; for me, its been a great confidence builder and very empowering. I feel more confident in my own skin than ever. I am very proud of my hard work in fitness and lifestyle, which is what it is really about, but I understand everyone is different.”
Also making a statement, the 2017 Miss Arkansas Maggie Benton said “Change is rarely easy, and I think it will take some time for many people who have been invested in the Miss America Organization to make this adjustment.”
“With that being said, I'm hopeful that these changes will be positive. I trust our Miss America leadership, and I know that there is a force of women working for the good of the organization at the end of the day. I'm excited to see the outcome,” she said.
At that time, national officials said they expected the changes to filter down to the state and local level pageants, apparently new reflected in this year's Miss Arkansas competition.
Miss America Trustee Jessie Bennett, who in Little Rock for the 2018 Miss Arkansas pageant, said “The decision to make this change was important because it allows us to embrace women differently to do what we ultimately are passionate about in providing exceptional opportunities and scholarships for education."
"I personally still believe that being mentally and physically healthy is an important component of taking on the responsibility of being a local, state or national titleholder but my hope is that we work to continue to educate young women on healthy lifestyles,” she said.