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

Published 9:15 am Tuesday, August 3, 2021

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