Forty-four contestants from across the state will make their way into Little Rock this week to compete in the 81st annual Miss Arkansas pageant June 12-16 at Robinson Performance Hall.

The group will have the opportunity to eat lunch at the William J. Clinton Library and Museum, attend another lunch at the governor’s mansion, take part in a self-defense class, have a pizza party with the Diamond State Princesses and more this week.

Among the 44 is Miss 2018 University of Central Arkansas Megan McAfee, who said she can't wait to be back on the Robinson Stage.

“My first year competing for the title of Miss Arkansas was so much fun and I learned a lot about myself and my capabilities,” she said. “I am excited to apply what I learned to this year’s competition and be able to show the best version of myself to the judges and each person I come in contact with.”

McAfee will represent UCA during the competition and said she is honored to do that.

“I love my school and am so thankful for the opportunities it has given me, so i can’t wait to show my Bear Pride to the state,” she said.

McAfee said she is looking forward to the new relationships that will form this week.

“I met a lot of new friends last year and can’t wait to meet and get to know the new faces,” she said. “The sisterhood of the Miss Arkansas Organization is my favorite part of competing and I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime.”

McAfee said the biggest challenge she will face is the dance for the opening number.

“As a pianist, I am confident in saying my dancing skills are not the best,” she said. “I will be working tirelessly this week to channel my inner dancer and work to perfect that dance.”

The contestant said the only challenge that could hold her back would be letting her nerves get the best of her.

“I am so excited to show my heart on the stage so remaining calm is the best way to ensure that the best version of myself is shown,” she said.

McAfee said she knows in her heart that if it’s God’s will that she win the competition then it will happen and believes the same for the other 43.

“Knowing that fact gives me peace that I can be myself and not worry about fitting a specific description or mold,” she said. “Any one of the other 43 contestants would be an amazing Miss Arkansas and I’m lucky to have this experience alongside them.”

If she were to be chosen, McAfee said, it would be a dream come true, going to represent the state at the Miss America pageant.

“I remember watching Miss America as a little girl and day-dreaming of one day being on that stage myself,” she said. “I genuinely feel that Arkansas has the best people in the country so to be able to represent the state would be an honor.”