Minden veterinarian Dr. Savanna Culpepper was on a flight bright and early Friday morning for Tucson, Ariz., where as the reigning Mrs. Louisiana, she will compete for the crown of Mrs. America August 23 through 29.
"I have had a lot of support from the community in getting ready for this pageant," Culpepper said. "Even though I'm not from Minden, the people and the businesses have made me feel like I am. I really appreciate everything they've done to help me."
Culpepper "swept" the Mrs. Louisiana pageant in April by winning first place in the interview, swimsuit and evening gown portions of the competition, as well as volunteer service award and most original opening number costume as the Louisiana iris.
For Mrs. America, contestants are judged in interview, swimsuit, evening gown and on-stage question, and Culpepper has trained differently for this pageant than others.
"I've been training with Liz Cannon, who is a 'beach body' coach and personal trainer," Culpepper said. "She has spent from the beginning of April until now getting me ready for the fitness portion."
Belle of the Bal' dress shop has supported Culpepper with dresses for the many dinners, interviews and other events throughout the week.
Culpepper's platform for Mrs. America is "All Together, All for Health."
"It's to promote any and all aspects of health, whether it be emotional support, physical fitness or disease prevention awareness," she said. "I've become a volunteer with Gamble Hospice and I visit at Town & Country (Health & Rehab) regularly."
Culpepper has been competing in pageants since she was in high school and marrying Webster Parish-native Denton Culpepper hasn't stopped her from competing.
"When I got married, I was still at the age that I would have been competing in the 'Miss' systems," Culpepper said. "I guess I haven't gotten it out of my system yet."
To compete in the "Mrs." system, one must be over 18 years of age and married. But there are differences in the pageants, too.
"The questions for the interview are different," she said. "You have to be knowledgeable about current events, but they focus more on family and career."
Culpepper competed in the Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss America systems prior to the Mrs. system.
"I like the process and the challenge of it and seeing myself grow through pageantry," she said.
Culpepper is a veterinarian at Minden Animal Clinic. She obtained her bachelor's degree in animal science from Louisiana Tech University and her doctorate from LSU.