Portage, Wayne Co. fairs help family affected by fire

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sign for faithlyn bogavich
A sign for Faithlyn Bogavich sits over the heifer calf she raised to show at this year's Wayne County Fair. Faithlyn and two of her siblings were killed in a house fire in July. (Rachel Wagoner photo)

WOOSTER, Ohio — Linda Rufener couldn’t get Judith Sutherland’s column out of her mind.

Sutherland wrote in the July 25 issue of Farm and Dairy about a house fire that killed three children who lived near her in Jeromesville and how the community supported the Bogavich family afterward.

One of the children was a 4-H’er who was raising heifer calves to show at the Wayne County Fair.

“I kept thinking about it,” Rufener said. “Then, in the morning it hit me. That’s what we have to do.”

The idea was to give proceeds from a charity basket sold at the Portage County Randolph Fair cheese auction to the Bogavich family.

Following Portage’s lead, Wayne County also sold a charity item at its dairy products auction for the family.

All told, the two fairs raised more than $11,000 for the family.

“Good deeds build off of one another,” Rufener said.

Tragedy strikes

A fire just after midnight July 15 quickly swept through the farmhouse in Ashland County. The house was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived around 12:45 a.m.

John Bogavich and his girlfriend, Mindy Speicher, got out, as did John’s son, Brayden, 14. But Faithlyn Bogavich, 12, Delaney Bogavich, 4, and JJ Bogavich, 1, did not.

The Ashland County Coroner said the children died from smoke inhalation.

Investigators said the fire began on the front porch, but a cause has not been determined.

Faithlyn was raising two dairy calves to show at the Wayne County Fair. She was a member of the County Line Clovers 4-H club.

Jamie Weekly, a close family friend who raises show cows, bought the calves for Faithlyn to raise at her dad’s house.

She raised and showed a lamb last year, but told Weekly she told him she wanted to show cows this year.

Weekly brought one of her calves, named Strawberry Shortcake, to the fair. A sign with Faithlyn’s name and a photo of her from last year’s fair hung over the calf’s stall.

“She was full of happiness and joy,” Weekly said, of Faithlyn. “She always wanted to be with the cows.”

Reaching out

Each year at Portage County Fair, the dairy boosters hold a cheese auction for the 4-H’ers, Rufener said.

At the end of the cheese auction, a benefit basket is sold, with money from it going back to the community in some way. In the past it’s gone to local families, the scholarship fund and the county extension office.

The dairy boosters hadn’t decided yet where the benefit basket proceeds should go when Rufener read Sutherland’s column.

“I brought it up to our dairy association and the 4-H advisers, and everyone was unanimous that that’s what we do this year,” she said.

Rufener ran the idea by Doug Foxx, Wayne County’s extension youth educator, to make sure it was all right. He got the OK from the family and said Wayne County would do the same.

group photo at wayne co fair
Linda Rufener (right) and others from Portage County Fair Dairy Committee came to the Wayne County Fair Sept. 11 to present a donation to the Bogavich family (left) during the junior dairy products auction. The family lost three children and their home to a fire in July. (Rachel Wagoner photo)

“We think it’s very generous of them, especially to reach out across multiple county lines to help,” said Foxx said.

Giving back

The Portage County benefit basket initially sold for $2,000 at the cheese auction on Aug. 25, but donations kept flowing in after the sale, Rufener said.

The amount hit $6,750 just before the Wayne County sale, and the Portage County dairy boosters decided to add another $1,000 to top it off, she said.

Rufener and others from Portage County came to the Wayne County dairy products auction Sept. 11 to present the money to the family.

Then, the Wayne County charity item was sold for $4,000 to Amos’ Hauling, bringing the total to $11,750 for the Bogavich family.

(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or rachel@farmanddairy.com.)

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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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