Miss Amory Railroad Festival 2020 Annie Brooke Morgan of Smithville hasn’t had a normal reign with a worldwide pandemic, with the cancellation of last year’s festival and planning for the 2021 festival being put on hold.
“It’s been hard during COVID, but it’s been important for me to follow the precautions because as Miss Railroad Festival, you have people looking up to you,” Morgan said. “It’s important to follow the guidelines of social distancing and mask wearing.”
For Morgan, the past several years have revolved around playing softball for Smithville. She started playing the sport at age 6 and has been on the Lady Noles’ roster since seventh grade, playing a variety of positions but primarily at third base.
While in eighth grade, she won Smithville’s junior high beauty review and won Smithville High School’s beauty review the next year as a freshman. Last year’s Amory Railroad Festival pageant was the first official pageant she has entered, and her inspiration was because of a family tie to the railroad.
“My grandfather worked for the railroad and because of him, I decided to enter the pageant,” she said. “I also did it because I can add that title to my name and people can associate that with me. I can always be known as the 2020 Miss Railroad Festival.”
Morgan said when she was announced as the pageant’s winner, she had to look at her entry number just to double check if it was really her.
She has attended the Amory Railroad Festival since she was 4 or 5, and her earliest memories were coming with her grandfather to the car show. Throughout the years, the festival is something she always looks forward to attending.
“I’ve always liked riding on the Moby Dick since I was little. I love hearing the bands and going shopping. My friends and I always love to just go walking around,” she said.
Morgan looks forward to when the festival is able to return and hopes to make her appearance.
“I will look forward to crowning the new Miss Railroad Festival,” she said. “Hopefully they will get to have a better year.”
Morgan is 18 and a senior at Smithville High School. Her mother is Liza Morgan, and her father is Clint Evans. Her grandparents are Jeff and Judy Morgan.
Her reign as Miss Railroad Festival isn’t the only thing that has been unusual as the pandemic has also affected her senior year.
“Probably the hardest part of it has been not being able to travel and see all of my family or have regular Christmas traditions,” Morgan said. “It’s my senior year, and it’s hard that we can’t always support all our friends in their sports. But your attention turns to the fact that it can affect anybody, and you need to take it seriously.”
Even though the Amory Railroad Festival pageant doesn’t require contestants to have a platform, Morgan takes it upon herself to stress the dangers of drinking and driving and drugs to other students.
“I’m really big about telling people in my community about drinking and driving. I tell people there’s no sense wasting a little bit of time not calling to let me know if they need a ride,” she said.
Morgan was voted Smithville’s 2020 Homecoming Queen and was also a member of the very first volleyball team for the school.
She is invited to play softball in the MAC North/South All-Star game at Jones County Junior College this summer as she was selected last year and the game was postponed.
She also placed fourth in sports medicine in the district through Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and plans to compete again this year. She serves on the advisory council for HOSA and recently helped collect clothes for NICU infants.
Additionally, she is a member of National Honor Society for English and art, the Beta Club and Honor Club.
After graduating from high school, Morgan plans to attend Itawamba Community College for two years before transferring to Mississippi University for Women to pursue her bachelor’s of science degree to be a registered nurse. She ultimately wants to be a neonatal physician’s assistant. Morgan also hopes to continue her softball career in college.