Miss USA contestants compete in swimsuit and evening gown prelims

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The first night of competition is in the books for the Miss USA Pageant, as 51 lovely ladies showed off their swimsuits and evening gowns for the preliminaries Wednesday night.

Thousands of people from near and far packed the Baton Rouge River Center for the Miss USA prelims. While the 51 contestants were excited to get the pageant started, many people who showed up to see the event were still in awe that such a big production is happening in the Capital City.

"We can say that we competed with cities like New York and Los Angeles that have held these pageants before," said Kristen Dufauchard with Krewe de Crown. "It's just awesome to say that we're up in the ranks and that Baton Rouge is up and coming."

Miss Arizona's family traveled to Louisiana to cheer on their favorite contestant. Her dad said he is thrilled to be in the audience to cheer on his daughter. He also said it was an added bonus that he got to return to Louisiana to do it.

"I came here years ago when they had the World Convention in '84," said Ron Wessel, Miss Arizona's father. "I had a great experience down on Bourbon Street. This was a little different because now I'm a dad."

Visit Baton Rouge said it's currently hard to pinpoint the economic impact of hosting the Miss USA Pageant, but the national and international attention the city and state are getting this week is priceless.

The final competition will be held at the River Center on Sunday starting at 7 p.m.

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