TORTOLA — A recent uptick in COVID cases in the British Virgin Islands may have stopped the annual August Monday festival, but it won’t stop the Miss BVI pageant.

Organizers of the pageant, originally scheduled for early August, have announced it has been rescheduled to Oct. 17 when six contestants — Reba Smith, Chenae Walters, Jareena Penn, Sylvanna Charles, Keyona Cameron and Kathlyn Archibald-Drew — will compete to become the next Miss BVI. This will be the first time the pageant wasn’t held on the night preceding the August Festival Parade.

Natalie Hodge, chairperson of the Miss BVI Pageant Committee, said the event will by a hybrid in-person and virtual event.

“This year’s pageant will offer an online component streaming live on a pay per view platform, whereby pageant supporters will have to subscribe to view the content,” Hodge said. “Despite some changes we made due to the pandemic, we are keeping most of the traditional and cultural elements of the Miss BVI experience”

Despite the new date, she said, the tradition of hosting the pageant on a Sunday and the format and segments of the show will remain the same.

“The crowning of the new queen will give her the opportunity to preside over the Virgin Islands Culture and Tourism Month activities in November,” Hodge said.

The pageant was canceled as COVID cases surged in July, which saw up to 1,600 individuals infected by the virus. Of the 37 COVID-related deaths in the British Virgin Islands, 36 occurred during the period of July 1 through August.

Behind the scenes, Hodge said the six contestants have been working hard. “So far, they have undergone communication training, runway coaching, etiquette training, team building activities, basic make-up tutorials and participated in promotional videos offering support and encouragement to the community,” she said.

The pageant’s theme is “A Cultural Identity: Perseverance. Resilience. Evolution.” Contestants will compete in Personal Interview, Introduction and Cultural Dress, Swimwear, Talent, Eveningwear and the Question and Answer segments.

The winner will receive a $25,000 academic grant, crown, travel opportunities and wardrobe. Bria Smith, the reigning Miss BVI 2019, will crown the winner. There was no pageant in 2020 because of the pandemic.