Erica Galhaus is lucky No. 7
Miss Clayland winner is continuing tradition in the Miss America Pageant
By Rex Huffman
Photos by Christine Walsh-Newton
With her selection as Miss Ohio, Erica Gelhaus becomes the seventh young woman to represent the area in the Miss America Pageant.
The area’s first association with the national Miss America Pageant came with the establishment of the Miss Dennison Pageant in 1952. The first winner of the Miss Dennison title was Carol Koontz of Bolivar, who was crowned Miss Ohio when the state pageant was held at Mentor-on-the-Lake.
The next two winners, Martha Zimmerman of Salem in 1953 and Barbara Quinlin of Alliance in 1954, also claimed Miss Ohio titles. In Atlantic City, Quinlin was a preliminary talent winner and a top 10 finalist.
In 1957, due to a change in franchise ownership, the Miss Dennison Pageant ceased to exist and Miss Clayland was born.
Twenty years later, the area was back in the spotlight when Susan Perkins, Miss Clayland 1977, was crowned Miss Ohio 1978. Three months later, Perkins was crowned Miss America 1978.
The Clayland pageant’s next win on the state level came seven years later, in 1984, when Melissa Bradley was crowned Miss Ohio. Bradley finished as first runner-up in that year’s Miss America pageant, making the Clayland pageant the only pageant in the U.S. to have produced both a Miss America and a first runner-up to Miss America.
It was another 24 years before Karissa Martin moved from Miss Clayland to Miss Ohio in 2008.
On Facebook Christine noted that while the article's title refers to the number of local women, Erica was ironically contestant #7 at Miss Ohio.