The 2021 Canal Days Queen and her court include, from left, Little Princesses Marleigh Rae Thompson, Samantha Gerdeman, Auburn Tucker, Emma Mueller, Aubree Gallmeier, Laine Ricker, Crown Bearer Eily Ousley, Little Miss Canal Days Aliyah Kimmett, Elle Goedde, Olivia Mahan and Whitlee Ditlz; and back, Noelle Prine, Melanie Gerdeman, Kendall Schrader, Third Runner-up Mahlon Haunhorst, First Runner-up Avery Rahrig, Queen Ella Wilson, Second Runner-up Chloe Etzkorn, Kyrstin Moore, Malania Hershey and Emily Rode. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
The 2021 Canal Days Queen and her court include, from left, Little Princesses Marleigh Rae Thompson, Samantha Gerdeman, Auburn Tucker, Emma Mueller, Aubree Gallmeier, Laine Ricker, Crown Bearer Eily Ousley, Little Miss Canal Days Aliyah Kimmett, Elle Goedde, Olivia Mahan and Whitlee Ditlz; and back, Noelle Prine, Melanie Gerdeman, Kendall Schrader, Third Runner-up Mahlon Haunhorst, First Runner-up Avery Rahrig, Queen Ella Wilson, Second Runner-up Chloe Etzkorn, Kyrstin Moore, Malania Hershey and Emily Rode. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)

DELPHOS — Ella Wilson is the 2021 Canal Days Queen.

“I’m very excited,” Wilson said Monday. “It still doesn’t feel real. It’s like I’m living in a dream.”

The St. John’s High School sophomore is the daughter of Mark and Liz Wilson. She said winning the Canal Days crown has already given her more than she could have imagined.

“It has given me courage and confidence I didn’t know I had,” she began. “I have way more of those things just in the last 24 hours. The pageant also helped me with public speaking and interview skills — it will help prepare me for life. I’ve also made some amazing friends.”

Wilson is looking forward to Canal Days beginning with the Toast to the City on Thursday. Her favorite festival event is the parade and she said she can’t wait to see all the smiling faces as she moves through the parade route.

The new reigning queen said she was encouraged to enter the pageant by friend and co-pageant sister Chloe Etzkorn.

“Last year, she said, ‘Ella, let’s just do it. We’ve got nothing to lose and we can make new friends’,” Wilson said. “The pageant and everything else was canceled last year so we did it this year.”

Her advice to others who are considering entering the pageant in the future is simple.

“You don’t have to be perfect to win. Look at me. Just be yourself,” she said.

Her father gave perhaps the best advice of all.

“He said I have to be a good role model now because people are looking up to me,” she said.

Junior Miss Canal Days is Ava Gallmeier, daughter of Travis and Kristy Gallmeier; and Little Miss Canal Days is Aliyah Kimmett, daughter of Ben and Brittany Kimmett.

The queen received a $1,000 cash scholarship, a crown and sash courtesy of the Canal Days Queen Pageant Committee, a mini cedar chest compliments of Westrich Furniture and a large floral bouquet from Ivy Hutch and Petal Shed.

First runner-up was Avery Rahrig. She is a sophomore at Jefferson and the daughter of Ben and Jamie Rahrig. She received a $500 cash scholarship, a decorative sash compliments of the Canal Days Queen Pageant Committee and a small floral bouquet from Ivy Hutch and Pedal Shed.

Second runner-up was Chloe Etzkorn, the daughter of Matthew and Denise Etzkorn and a sophomore at St. John’s. She received a $300 cash scholarship, a decorative sash compliments of the Canal Days Queen Pageant Committee and a small floral bouquet from Ivy Hutch and Pedal Shed.

Third runner-up was Mahlon Haunhorst. She is the daughter of Chad and Tamara Haunhorst and a senior at St. John’s. She received a $200 cash scholarship, a decorative sash compliments of the Canal Days Queen Pageant Committee and a small floral bouquet from Ivy Hutch and Pedal Shed.

Melanie Gerdeman, daughter of Mandy and Dan Gerdeman and a junior at St. John's, won the essay contest and the $50 Carl Core Memorial Essay Scholarship.

Miss Congeniality was Kendall Schrader, a senior at Jefferson and the daughter of Chad and Krista Schrader. She received a gift bag courtesy of Gary and Judy Mack.

Kyrstin Moore, a sophomore at Jefferson and the daughter of Steve and Lesley Moore, was the People’s Choice winner and she won the Talent Contest. She received the $150 Michael Gallmeier Memorial Talent Scholarship and a gift bag courtesy of area merchants at the pageant committee.

Top Seller was Malania Hershey. She is the daughter of Jodi Vaskey and Eric Hershey.

Other contestants included: Emily Rode, the daughter of Joe Rode and Crysti Rode; and Noelle Prine, the daughter of Butch and Stacy Prine.

All contestants received flowers, leggings by Joy DeVelvis-Lula Roe, a set of Color Street nails from consultant Whitney Sully, a 5x7 pageant photo, T-shirts from Lion Clothing and the Canal Days Committee, bracelets from Shannon Moreo of Peanut Sue Studio, water bottles from Schrader Realty, a journal and crown pen from Cheri Core, a Mary Kay gift bag from Kim Ousley and items from H&S Creations.

Little Princesses included: Aliyah Kimmett, Emma Mueller, Ella Goedde, Whitlee Diltz, Marleigh Rae Thompson, Olivia Mahan, Auburn Tucker, Aubree Gallmeier, Samantha Gerdeman, Laine Ricker and Eily Ousley.

The pageant was directed by Kim Ousley and her committee of Megan Goedde, Maddie Pohlman and Tony Wiechart. Rick Miller was the emcee.