JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In the next two weeks, 153 women from as far away as New Zealand will compete in Jacksonville for a new title. The River City is host to the International Pageant circuit for the next three years. It's been held in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago, for the past 10. Organizers say choosing Jacksonville as its new home was an easy decision.
"We love it here, the weather is wonderful, the beaches are great, the restaurants, there's so much to do," said International Pageants Executive Director Mary Richardson. "We want the contestants and their families to come back year after year."
This weekend, 65 women will compete in the Mrs. International pageant. Richardson, along with several contestants, said this event is a family affair. It's about more than just the woman on stage.
"It gives my entire family a chance to be involved in this as well, so it's not just me and something I want to do. It allows my husband and my children to be a part of it so we can work together as a group and really promote our awareness of JDRF," said Mrs. West Virginia International Judy Ridenour.
Each woman chooses a platform, or a cause, they want to advocate for. Ridenour said her choice was easy. Her daughter was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.
"The international system has been able to help us promote our platform and with the international system as a whole, we can really reach out to newly diagnosed diabetics and be there as their support and guidance," said Richardson.
These events will have a significant impact on the local economy.
"This is great news for Jacksonville. Not only will we get to show off our impressive destination to hundreds of competitors from around the globe, but the economic impact of this event relocating to our city for the next three years will be felt throughout our entire community", said Paul Astleford, President and CEO of Visit Jacksonville.
Visit Jacksonville estimates this event, along with next week's Miss International and Miss Teen International pageants will have more than $500,000 in direct economic impact .