Several competitors with ties to Wayne County are in the running for the title of Miss North Carolina this week.

Miss Goldsboro 2018 Bailey Stamper and Miss Goldsboro 2017 Courtney Smith, who became the first runner-up in the Miss North Carolina pageant a year ago, and Miss Greensboro Karen Stallings, a native of Fremont, are all competing for the crown in Raleigh this week. The winner of the pageant will advance to the Miss America pageant in September, in New Jersey.

Already during the preliminary nights, Smith is showing promise by already receiving a lifestyle and fitness award.

The Miss North Carolina pageant, which includes 49 women, is taking place at the Duke Center for Performing Arts. Competitions started Tuesday, with the first round of preliminaries. Candidates were judged on lifestyle and fitness, talent, evening gown and on-stage interview.

Finals will take place Saturday evening, with the pageant being broadcast at 8 p.m. on ABC 11. The competitions include evening wear, swimsuit competitions, lifestyle and fitness, talent, and interviews and finish off with the next Miss North Carolina receiving the title, rights and the crown.

The pageant celebrates its 81st year of providing young women from across the state with the opportunity to showcase their talent, style and knowledge of world events.

Tickets to the event are available and can be purchased at any Ticketmaster location.

Over the course of the weeklong competition, candidates will be awarded scholarships. Over the years, the pageant has been a launching pad for young women to further their education and career goals.

Along with the other competitors, Stamper and Stallings both have their hopes set high at capturing the crown this year.

Since winning their current titles, both ladies have been busy preparing for the competition.

Both have maintained a weekly workout routine along with choosing the perfect gowns.

Stamper just completed her freshman year at East Carolina University Honors College.

Her platform is spinal muscular atrophy, also known as SMA.

Her talent for the competition will include tap dancing. She says that she is inspired by her sister Mattie.

"She inspires me to be the best that I can be when faced with life challenges." Stamper said.

Stallings recently completed her first year of teaching at Charles B. Aycock High School.

She taught ninth grade English.

She is excited to be a part of the competition.

Stallings' great-grandmother, Mary Stallings, was the first Miss Goldsboro in 1932.

"I hope to make her proud as I compete to become the next Miss North Carolina," she said.

Her platform is the Rise Movement, which focuses on respect, integrity, strength and empowerment.

On Sunday, Stallings and Stamper traveled to Raleigh for the competition and were provided with their room and roommate assignments. They also toured the apartment where Miss North Carolina lives during her year of wearing the crown.

Miss North Carolina is also provided with a vehicle as she makes her way around the state attending different sponsored events.

BAILEY STAMPER

* Favorite color -- Purple

* Favorite food -- "Too many to name!"

* Favorite TV show -- "The Office"

* If you could travel to anywhere in the world where would you go? -- Hawaii

* Last book read -- "The Astronaut Wives Club"

* Last movie watched -- "Solo: A Star Wars Story"

* What philosophy do you live by? -- Always be yourself.

KAREN STALLINGS

* Favorite color -- Tourquoise

* Favorite food -- Barbecue

* The last book read -- "Getting Real," by Gretchen Carlson

* If you could travel to any place in the world, where would you go? -- North Carolina mountains

* If you could drive any car in the world, what would you drive? -- Toyota Rav4

* A perfect day would consist of? -- "Getting up early, having a cup of coffee, while enjoying my quiet time. Then, spending the day with my family and taking a stroll in downtown Goldsboro."

* If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would it be with? -- Sadie Robertson

* Last movie you saw? -- Star Wars series

* Philosophy that you live by? -- "The reward is in the journey."