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Perennially well-run show inspires loyalty

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- September marks the 50th All-American Dairy Show, and since the first event in 1964, three Pennsylvania and three Maryland farm families have remained fixtures in the show ring and behind the scenes. One of them is the Stiles Family of Spring Valley Farm, Westminster, Md.

Maryland brothers Wayne and Allen Stiles raise renowned Jerseys. Their passion for showing their cattle has taken them through the shavings of the top rings in the country, including Pennsylvania’s All-American Dairy Show, for the past 50 years.

But the family had more humble beginnings on Walnut Farm near Rockville, Md., a now busy suburb of Washington, D.C. Grandfather N.C. Stiles started the farm with a herd of grade Holsteins. He gradually added Jerseys to increase butterfat content at the risk of losing the milk market.

The Stiles started their show career when Wayne and Allen’s father, John, purchased a Jersey heifer for a 4-H project for the Maryland State Fair. That was the start of the family’s more than 70-year participation in the annual state event.

As John and his wife, Charlotte, developed their own Jersey herd, they moved to a Frederick County farm in 1951 with beautiful valleys and natural springs, thus inspiring the Spring Valley prefix.

As the Jersey herd grew, so did John and Charlotte’s family. Their six children – Howard, Allen, Wayne, Cliff, Charlotte (Maunier) and Betty (Heath) – became involved in Maryland 4-H. Showing soon became a family affair as well as a significant portion of their business. By the time the All American Dairy Show began in 1964, the family’s cattle had already earned a superior reputation in local, state and national shows.

The family’s reputation extends beyond showing cattle to judging them. More than 30 descendants of N.C. Stiles have competed on Maryland 4-H dairy judging teams.

John made sure other local children had similar opportunities to his own. A 4-H leader for nearly 60 years, John often filled his trailer with project animals, including them in the Spring Valley show string free of charge.

He also allowed 4-H and collegiate judging teams to practice placing cattle at Spring Valley.

“Our father wanted to allow other kids the opportunity to catch the passion for showing cattle,” said Wayne.

The family eventually moved the farm to Westminster, Md., where it remains under ownership of Wayne and Allen Stiles.

Michael Heath, son of Betty and Billy Heath, is involved in marketing the herd.

“Breeding decisions are a team effort,” said Michael. “Traveling as a judge, including at the All-American, allows me to see many daughters of different sires, which aids in breeding decisions.”

The Spring Valley herd has remained a front-runner at the All American, winning grand and reserve champion honors numerous times in the past five decades. Spring Valley has earned many class wins, as well as top group classes and several Premier Breeder and Exhibitor banners.

Two Spring Valley foundation cow families that have stood the test of time are from Spring Valley Merry Maid Sherry and Spring Valley Lady, with offspring still winning classes. Since Sherry stood as reserve grand champion in 1980, at least one of her direct descendants has shown every year. Spring Valley AJ Latoya is currently the most prominent member of the Lady family, according to the Stiles family.

The Stiles family recalls the flood in the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in 1975, when animals needed to be led to safety through the deep waters. A humorous memory involves Mary King of Kingstead Farm leading a heifer through waist-high waters while holding an umbrella over her head to keep her hair dry.

“People just walked up to show strings and grabbed two to four halters to lead animals to safer ground,” said Wayne.

While leading four heifers through high water, Wayne turned to see only three Jersey heads above water with their junior calf nearly completely submerged except for her ears. Fortunately, the group made it safely to the trailer, especially that little calf.

The family’s respect and admiration for the show ring and the All-American Dairy Show clearly runs deep.

“We thoroughly enjoy the All-American and appreciate the show staff’s respect of exhibitors,” said Wayne.

“It is such a well-run show.”

Other families that have been a part of the All American Dairy Show since its beginning in 1964 are: The Yoder Family of Pinesedge Farm, Shoemakersville, Berks County, Pa.; the Patrick Family of Maple Dell Farm, Woodbine, Md.; the Marchezak Family of Bentleyville, Washington County, Pa.; the Gable Family of Snider Homestead Farm, New Enterprise, Bedford County, Pa.; and the Shank Family of Palmyra Farm, Hagerstown, Md. With this presentation, each family has now been recognized in Farmshine via a feature story.

The All-American Dairy Show features 22 shows in six days in addition to the nation’s only all-dairy antiques show. Last year’s show featured nearly 2500 animals and more than 900 exhibitors from across the nation.