Bovine Bingo?

Today while reading through all the Google alerts for bingo I stumbled upon the term ‘Bovine Bingo’. Naturally I was curious never having heard of this particular variant of the game of bingo. Further reading disclosed that this form of bingo is common in rural areas and is commonly played at county fairs usually for fundraising purposes.

Actually Bovine Bingo is more like a lottery than traditional bingo. The game is played by marking a grid consisting of rectangles in a fairly large enclosed area. The rectangles within the grid are usually numbered and participants in the game purchase chances on the various numbers. A cow is then released into the enclosure. Where the first ‘cowchip’ lands usually determines the winner.

In many rural areas of both the US and Canada this game is received with enthusiasm and is even covered in the local press. A recent edition of the Times, a newspaper from Ottawa Illinois, reads-

“Bovine Bingo winners named

Jessie Ragusa of Streator won $500 in the Lions Club Bovine Bingo contest during the weekend Heritage Days celebration

The contest began after the Clyde Tombaugh mural dedication and lasted eight minutes. Sara Redman provided the cow. Mayor Ray Schmitt determined the coordinates of the winning square.”

While news coverage of Bovine Bingo may seem quaint to urban readers it is a refreshing change from the crime reports and politics as usual that seem to dominate the news today. Bingo and its variants have been an entertainment staple in rural North America for decades. It is nice to know that bingo still entertains small town America.