The 90th annual Miss America pageant returns to ABC tonight, with 53 women from across the country descending onto a Las Vegas stage to vie for the Miss America crown and a $50,000 scholarship.
Caressa Cameron, who was crowned Miss America in 2010, will hand off the coveted crown to the new winner after a two-hour competition televised live from the Planet Hollywood resort and casino. Contestants hail from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The pageant, which has not aired on ABC since 2004, will begin with an opening number, after which hosts Brooke Burke from "Dancing with the Stars" and Chris Harrison of "The Bachelor" will announce 16 finalists, which will include one finalist chosen by fans through online and mobile phone voting.
The 16 finalists will then compete in four categories: swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview competitions. A panel of judges will ultimately decide who will be crowned Miss America 2011.
Saturday's finale is the culmination of a week of build-up competitions that have seen several contestants take cash prizes after winning preliminary swimsuit and talent competitions.
Preliminary scores count 30 percent toward a contestant's score to get into the top five. The talent competition counts for 30 percent, while the swimsuit and evening gown competitions each count for 20 percent.
Three competitors -- Miss Hawaii Jalee Fuselier, Miss Alabama Ashley Davis and Miss Oklahoma Emoly West -- won nightly swimsuit competitions, worth $1,000 each.
Miss North Carolina Adrienne Core was named Tuesday night's preliminary talent winner for her performance clogging to "Soul Man," during the first night of competition.
Miss Rhode Island Deborah Saint-Vil was named Wednesday night's preliminary Talent winner for her vocal performance of "Smile," while Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan was named Thursday night's preliminary Talent winner for her piano performance of "White Water Chopped Sticks."
All three talent winners were awarded $2000 in prize money.
Also competing this year is Miss Delaware Kayla Martell, who has the distinction of being the first Miss America hopeful to suffer from alopecia, which has caused her to lose most of her hair.
Speaking with ABC News, Martell told of her lifelong dream to compete in the Miss America pageant, how wearing a wig makes people more comfortable when meeting her, and how a wig doesn't make her too much different from her fellow beauty queens.
"Half of the girls here wear hair extensions and false eye lashes. My hair piece just happens to be a little bit thicker and a little bit heavier," Martell said with a smile.
"Ms. America needs to be relatable and she needs to be approachable," she added. "When people see me they think that I am either very sick, or going through chemotherapy. The wig gives me an opportunity to meet them, and they're not worried about me. Then I can bring up my alopecia on my own terms."
Also competing is Miss Michigan Katie LaRoche, who according to pageant officials won $6,000 for the Quality of Life award, a scholarship given for volunteerism and community service. LaRoche helps to raise awareness of human trafficking.
The $50,000 top prize for the new Miss America is among $349,000 in prizes given by the Miss America Organization at the national level. The organization bills itself as the country's largest scholarship provider for women.
Each of the contestants was guaranteed at least $3,000, with the first runner-up receiving $25,000 and third place winner getting $20,000.