4-H club raises nearly $70,000 for member whose father died

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The Gfeller and Zippay families stand together in front of the hog that sold for more than $60,000 at the Canfield Junior Fair to benefit the Gfeller family as they deal with the loss of father and husband Jarrett Gfeller. (Rachel Wagoner photo)

CANFIELD, Ohio — This is Kinley Gfeller’s first year showing animals in 4-H, and her dad was supposed to be there to help her along the way.

Jarrett Gfeller had raised and showed prize-winning hogs when he was in Mahoning County 4-H, so he was excited to see Kinley get into it, said his wife, Ladine Gfeller.

He was still talking about it through being hospitalized after suffering an aortic aneurysm. He spent a year in and out of the hospital battling complications following heart surgery. Jarrett passed away on June 28.

Kinley’s 4-H club stepped up to make sure the Gfellers made it to the fair with their market animals, and then some. Next Generation 4-H Club raised and donated a market hog and pen of market chickens that were sold at the Canfield Junior Fair Livestock Auction. The donated animals brought in nearly $70,000 for the Gfeller family.

“It’s overwhelming,” Ladine Gfeller said. “What can you say? Thank you is not enough.”

Ladine Gfeller described her husband as a very hard worker. Together the couple ran Hardwood Ranch Sales, in Damascus, through which they sold used and refurbished farm equipment. The family grew and sold pumpkins in the fall.

His obituary said he liked attending auctions, working on tractors, going to tractor pulls and hunting. He was a member of the Columbiana County Antique Tractor Association.

Jarrett Gfeller and Andrea Zippay grew up together in 4-H. They both stayed in the area after getting married and starting families. They were both part of the formation of the Next Generation 4-H Club in Damascus several years ago.

“Once you’re in 4-H here, you’re in,” Zippay said.

That’s why the club had been planning to help the Gfeller family however they could. Zippay’s three children, Stella, 13, Everett, 11, and Neva, 8, are in the club with Kinley, 9.
For the 4-H club, that meant raising and selling animals, Everett said. They used what they had, he said. He and his sisters raise hogs each year to show at the fair, and they usually get extra piglets to start, he said.

Andrea Zippay said the club donated the feed. The Zippay family donated the labor to raise the benefit hog.

The club also helped Ladine Gfeller and Kinley with whatever they needed to get Kinley’s market animals to the fair. In addition to a hog, Kinley raised and showed a turkey and pen of chickens.

“I did not grow up on a farm, so we couldn’t have done it without help,” Ladine Gfeller said. “With the grace of God and friends, we made it.”

Kinley’s first time in the show ring went well, except when her hog, Louise, decided to start a fight with another pig during showmanship. Kinley got a couple fourth place ribbons, and now she’s hooked, Ladine Gfeller said. Her father would be proud.

Andrea Zippay spread the word about the 4-H club’s plan to auction off the donated animals to help the Gfeller family with medical expenses and family expenses. She made fliers and talked to businesses in the area.

The hog sold Sept. 1. The price shot up so fast Andrea Zippay only had time to record the end of it with her phone. The video shows the crowd standing up when the bid hits $150 a pound. Everyone is on their feet, clapping and cheering, for the final bid of $170/pound.

The buyers — John and Beth Kufleitner, Ed and Chris Muranksy, Don and Sheri Snyder and Bob Jarvis and Cornerstone Electric — donated it back to be sold again. The second sale brought in $60/pound from Advanced Land Enhancement. The market pen of chickens sold and resold eight times over on Sept. 2, bringing in more than $7,500.

“It was the right thing to do,” Stella said, of raising and donating the hog. She showed it in the ring. “We have to be good citizens because that’s what 4-H is about.”

(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be reached at rachel@farmanddairy.com or 724-201-1544.)

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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.

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