Tonight a new Miss America will be crowned. Arkansas’ own Savvy Shields will conclude her whirlwind year as the third Miss America to come from the Natural State.
Earlier this year, two of Arkansas’ three Miss Americas were in Little Rock for the Miss Arkansas pageant. So as Savvy wraps up her reign, it seems a good time to remember when Donna Axum first brought the Miss America title to Arkansas.
A native of El Dorado and a student at the University of Arkansas, during her reign as Miss America Miss Axum (or simply Donna as the newspaper headlines referred to her) made four public visits to Little Rock. As the first Miss Arkansas to become Miss America, the state’s Capitol City was very interested in giving her a warm welcome.
After being crowned on September 7, 1963, Axum’s first official visit to Arkansas was November 1 through 3. In addition to stops in Hot Springs and El Dorado, she appeared in Little Rock to attend events including an Arkansas Razorback football game at War Memorial Stadium. Her entourage included the top four runners up from the Miss America pageant.
In February 1964, she made a brief appearance in Little Rock which included a press conference.
Donna Axum spent nearly two weeks in Arkansas in May 1964 attending several pageants as well as spending time with family. During that visit she appeared in Little Rock twice. The second time she headlined a concert with the Arkansas Symphony (not related to the current Arkansas Symphony Orchestra) and the Arkansas Choral Society. It took place at Robinson Auditorium.