LaJuana Woelke remembers reading about the Mrs. Santa Clarita Valley contest for the first time in The Signal nearly 50 years ago.
The former Saugus resident had just participated in the four-day Jaycee Community Fair in 1972.
“I was a stay-at-home mom and I was raised at the tail end of the Depression – we canned everything,” she told The Signal. “So, I did a lot of canning and a lot of baking and I entered it at our local fair
Woelke, a mother to six children, had entered into “nearly every category,” according to the June 14, 1972, edition of The Signal.
The Signal reported that “Mrs. Homemaker La-Juana Woelke” won “seven blue ribbons for her extraordinary talents in canning, pickling, cakes, cookies, specialty breads, antiquing and pastry.”
“Then, when the Mrs. Santa Clarita Valley contest came along, it just really sounded like fun to me because that was a part of my growing up,” said Woelke, who is a grandmother to 20, a great grandmother to 48, and a great-great grandmother to seven.
Woelke, who now lives in South Carolina, remembers gathering at Mama Toni’s in Newhall with other applicants for the title of Mrs. Santa Clarita Valley, which she described as a homemaker’s contest.
“We just had a really interesting time meeting together,” she said. “Of course, I happen to have been near the oldest of the group at that time and had the greater number of children.”
When she was selected, she said she was wearing a dress that she had made herself for the contest.
“It wasn’t a beauty contest, it was the Mrs. Santa Clarita Valley contest,” Woelke said, noting she made wedding dresses for all five of her daughters, too.
She had also entered other handiwork, such as crochet.
“We made our own wine,” Woelke said, noting they used pomegranates from their trees for the wine. “I should say actually my husband made it, but I entered that in the contest too and won first place.”
In 1972, The Signal said Woelke was “a very busy lady,” and when she became Mrs. SCV in 1973, she became even busier.
“I served as a good will ambassador and I was on call quite frequently for different things, new restaurants opening, new stores opening in town,” she said, noting that she and her husband, Donald Woelke, were very involved with the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.
Woelke even met with the Australian consul general and gave the diplomat her famous old-fashioned carrot cake.
One of the duties of Mrs. SCV was to represent the Santa Clarita Valley in the Mrs. California contest.
“Well, that didn’t happen because that was a time that we had to wait in line for three to four hours to get our tanks filled up with gas,” she said of the 1974 state contest.
Nevertheless, Woelke said she enjoyed her year as Mrs. Santa Clarita Valley and the community she represented.
“I love that area. I loved it then and I love it now,” she said, noting she moved because her family eventually didn’t need their five-bedroom home on Oaklar Drive. “I so enjoyed my time as Mrs. Santa Clarita Valley and the house that we lived in and the area that we lived in. It was just a dream to my husband and myself.”