PHOTO STORY: Niles’ Tharp wins Cass County Youth Dairy Show

CASSOPOLIS — Mary Tharp’s cow Valentine holds a special place in her heart.

“I named her Valentine because we got her on Valentine’s Day,” she said.

Fair officials could see that Valentine felt the love from Tharp, as the Niles native took home Champion Showman honors at Monday’s Cass County Fair Youth Dairy Show.

Alainna Preston was named Reserve Grand Champion.

The victory was sweet for Tharp, who took first place in the senior class dairy cow showmanship exhibition in 2019.

“Honestly, I was honored,” Tharp said. “I’ve been working for this my whole life. One year my brother won, and then last year, we didn’t really have a fair, so this year, I’m really excited. I’m just happy.”

Monday’s win was two years in the making for Tharp, a homeschool graduate who also holds down a full-time job.

“We learned a lot about each other,” she said. “It’s been a lot of hard work. It’s taken a long time to build consistency. I was in the barnyard three nights a week because I work full-time. Trying to balance everything has been really difficult.”

While the past two years have been a challenge for Tharp and Valentine, Tharp thanked her family for being a support system she could rely on.

“They understood that we were going to the barn before I did anything else,” she said. “My siblings helped a lot. They were able to help me out and help keep her clean and tie her up for me when I wasn’t able to. I can’t say I did it all myself. It’s nice having a big family.”

Above all else, Tharp enjoyed being part of the fair festivities once again.

“I love it,” she said. “I liked the show-and-go last year because it was less stressful for my animals but with this, you have the camaraderie with the other showmen. They’re happy for me; they’re disappointed they didn’t win but they’re happy for me. If I took Preserve and [Alainna Preston] got first, I’d be happy for her. I’d be disappointed, but I’d still be happy, so I missed that piece.”

2021 Cass County Fair Youth Dairy Show results


Grand Champion Showman — Mary Tharp

Reserve Grand Champion Showman — Alainna Preston


Grand Champion Jersey — Abigail Carpenter

Reserve Grand Champion Jersey — Hannah Carr

Any Other Breed

Grand Champion Other Breed — Abigail Carpenter

Reserve Grand Champion Other Breed — Alainna Preston


Grand Champion Holstein — Carlee Cady

Reserve Grand Champion — Carlee Cady


Paddle auction to be hosted at Niles church Sept. 30

Berrien County

Local league to register voters on National Voter Registration Day


DAR to host rededication


Niles Housing Commission moves to make improvements, stabilize funding into the future


Dowagiac police investigating Saturday night shooting

Cass County

Van Buren/Cass District Health Department confirms COVID-19 associated death of a student in Van Buren County

Cass County

Cassopolis man gets probation for drunk driving

Cass County

South Bend man resentenced in 1997 Union murder case


Army veteran talks his experience in Afghanistan


Local farm markets ready for fall season


Mason’s Pumpkins preparing for second-annual Harvest Festival


DUS, teachers continue contract talks


Dowagiac Area History Museum fundraiser raises $40,000


Wolverine Pipeline, area organizations partner to lend veteran a helping hand


Cassopolis woman opens vintage, antique store downtown

Brandywine Education

Tickets on sale for Brandywine Hall of Fame induction ceremony


New tech students race marbles to raise money for essential workers

Berrien County

MGCF awards $121,182 in grants to Berrien, Cass counties

Berrien County

Berrien County reports lower COVID-19 cases in schools following mask mandate

Berrien County

Berrien County amends transportation funding requests


Dowagiac man found guilty of drunk driving

Cass County

Underground Railroad Society of Cass County wins Michigan Humanities Council 2021 Outstanding Humanities Organization Award


Dowagiac Police Log: Sept. 17-22


Ontwa Township/Edwardsburg Police Log: Sept. 13-20