It is rare that many people would ever be excited about where a cow plops its latest pie, but that’s just what a few dozen people in the Great Northern Fairgrounds’ Bigger Better Barn were doing Saturday evening.
As a fundraiser for this year’s Relay For Life, the Magical Memories team hosted a game of cow pie bingo, where a steer, named Lil’ Man, wandered a 22-by-22 grid for two-and-a-half hours. The holder of the ticket corresponding with the grid square on which Lil’ Man’s pie landed would win $2,105.
With that much at stake, doing his business was serious business. Event organizer Halley O’Leary said they had a shovel and scales ready in case the cow pie straddled the lines between more than one square, so the prize money could be divided proportionally, by what weight fell in which square.
Cathy Huston, a Magical Memories team member, emceed the event. She said she talked with Lil’ Man’s owners, Shawn and Heidi Nystrom, about their steer’s unexpected power.
“I asked the Nystroms if they ever anticipated owning a cow that would make a $2,100 turd, ” Huston said.
The team sold 484 bingo tickets at $10 each, or three for $25. Proceeds from ticket sales were split equally between the Relay For Life charity and the prize pot.
The Hi-Line Pickers played some classic country songs for about two-hours, occasionally improvising new songs to encourage Lil’ Man to “choose” the winner.
The wait was also broken up by door-prize contests, awarding donations from local businesses.
The team also sold concessions and raffle tickets that they will continue to sell until the night of the relay on July 13.
O’Leary said the team chose their name because everyone on their team has lost a family member to cancer. She lost her own mother about 15 years ago.
Now O’Leary and her teammates hope to do their part to prevent such loss from striking others, however unusual their methods.
The Nystroms brought Lil’ Man out at 5:30 p. m., but O’Leary and Huston were only going to count the first pie placed between 6 and 8 p. m.
Lil’ Man obliged around 5:50 p. m., but it was scooped when the real round began.
Nearing the end of the game, Lil’ Man had not gone again. And, despite musical assistance from the band and a few squeezes and slaps on the rear from frustrated audience members, he never did.
In the end, Erin Loughton won the $2,105 prize by a random drawing from a bucket.
O’Leary was thankful for all the help from her family, friends and the local businesses who contributed in various ways to what she hopes will be a new annual tradition.
“For the first year, it went pretty well, ” O’Leary said. “It was a smaller crowd, which was kind of nice because I felt I got a good practice round to know what works and what doesn’t.
“I think next year will be really good. ”