Miss Durham crowned 2011 Miss North Carolina

Posted June 25, 2011 11:57 p.m. EDT
Updated June 24, 2012 11:37 a.m. EDT

— A Meredith College student and Miss Durham was crowned as the new Miss North Carolina Saturday night, marking the fourth straight year a woman representing the Triangle has won the competition.

Hailey Best, 20, beat out 33 other contestants to be crowned at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh.

"It's just been a wonderful experience so far. I really don't even believe it yet. I think I'm still dreaming," she said on the WRAL Sunday Morning News.

The Triangle was also represented by Miss Garner Virginia Zelle Brown, who placed second. Miss Fayetteville Katie Mills placed fourth and won the preliminary swimsuit competition.

Miss Gastonia Maddison Sheppard placed third, and Miss Coastal Carolina Mary Catherine Tucker was the fifth-placed finalist.

Best sang opera to win the talent competition on Wednesday. She's a vocal performance major at Meredith College in Raleigh.

Best said she's worked with children's home since she was a child and wants to promote the Live On Foundation, which works with children from group and foster homes and homeless shelters.

"We give them the opportunity to participate in extracurriculars outside of their living arrangement, and that can be academic, artistic or athletic events," she said. "We give them the opportunities they might not otherwise have."

She will represent North Carolina in the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas in January.

Best is from Goldsboro, but the Miss Durham pageant is open to women across North Carolina. The Miss Raleigh and Miss Tar Heel pageants are also statewide competitions.

"I'm excited to represent Durham as the next Miss North Carolina," Best said. "Durham has so many opportunities, athletic events at the Durham Bulls stadium, and the Durham Performing Arts Center is growing by leaps and bounds. There are so many great events going on all the time."

Best said she's been impressed with Durham when she's been involved in events there. She has sung at the Carolina Theatre and a Dress for Success event at Northgate Mall.

Pageant queens representing the Triangle have dominated the Miss North Carolina Competition in recent years.

Adrienne Core, who won last year, and Katherine Southard, who won in 2009, both entered the competition as Miss Raleigh. The 2008 state queen, Amanda Lauren Watson, was first Miss Garner.