Miss Texas is coming to Texoma, y’all.


Caroline Carothers, Miss Texas 2016, will be the master of ceremonies for the Texoma Marketing and Media Group’s Best of Texoma Gala on April 29. The event will highlight and honor the best businesses and organizations in the region in more than 130 categories as chosen by Texoma residents.


“This is something I’ve been excited for,” Carothers said in a phone interview Friday. “I’ve never been to (the area) before. I’ve been through it, but I’ve never had the opportunity to stop.”


Carothers won the Miss Texas competition in 2016 after three years of competing. In her second year, Carothers said she did well enough that she decided to try for a third time.


“I think it was finally my time and the stars aligned for me,” she said.


When asked what attracted her to the pageant scene, Carothers said it was the scholarship goal of the Miss America Organization and Foundation that caught her attention. With her award, Carothers said she was able to receive more than $20,000 in scholarships in the past year toward her education.


Carothers is currently taking a year off from classes at Baylor University, where she is studying both business and education, for her duties as Miss Texas. As a part of these duties, Carothers said she has been able to tour schools across the state and speak to students of all ages.


“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and being able to visit these schools has really affirmed this for me,” she said.


As her platform for the 2017 Miss America Pageant, where she placed in the top seven, Carothers chose Amazon’s “With Math I Can” initiative. Under this program, Carothers said organizers are focusing on initiatives to increase early math skills they hope will carry through into adulthood. Carothers said the program got its start when organizers noticed how many adults say they are bad at math.


For the Best of Texoma Gala, which is in its first year, more than 750 finalists from the contest will be invited to a special dinner at Denison’s Hilton Garden Inn. The event will culminate with the reveal of who received the most votes in each category.


“I am excited to have Miss Texoma here to award and recognize the best businesses in Texoma,” Nate Rodriguez, Texoma Marketing and Media Group senior group publisher, said. “It feels like the honor is greater coming from someone who truly represents the best.”


For this year’s Best of Texoma Awards, the voting was changed from previous years. The contest featured a preliminary nomination phase where residents could nominate businesses of their choice in more than 130 categories. From there, a second voting phase was held with the top three winners in each category.


During the first phase, more than 2,000 businesses were nominated, with 43,000 total votes cast from more than 2,200 users. In the final round, more than 6,000 users placed 260,000 votes.


The results of the final round will be announced at the gala on April 29 where all the finalists will be honored, Rodriguez said. “The change allows Texoma’s best business to be recognized in a venue of their peers,” he said.