You’ve heard of Cow Plop Bingo? Well, get ready for Chicken Sh#! Bingo. According to Studio Place Arts executive director Sue Higby, it’s big in Texas. (But then, what isn’t big in Texas?) On the internets, naturally, you can find videos of the gambling game, in which players bet their bucks on a square on the Bingo-gridded floor of a pen. When a well-fed hen is placed in the pen, it’s just a matter of time before the girl’s gotta go. And the number she plops on is the winner. Talk about dumb cluck, er, luck.
This Saturday, Chicken Sh#! Bingo is coming to Barre, and it’s a fundraiser for SPA. But that’s not the only thing that sets the local version apart from the Lone Star State’s. Says Higby, “We’ve added an art component here in Vermont.”
That is, the gridded cage liners are works of art by eight contributors: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur, Pria Cambio, Georgia Landau, Linda Berg Maney, Maggie Neale, Heather Milne Ritchie, Kristin Schuyler and Janet Van Fleet. After each chicken contributes its medium — which Higby delicately calls “excreta” — the painting will be complete, and for sale. Don’t laugh; as Vermont art collector Mark Waskow wrote for the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus earlier this month, “The use of alternative, nontraditional and often ephemeral materials in the creation of visual art has become a hallmark of the avant-garde movements since at least the very early turn of the 20th century.” Hello, Marcel Duchamp.
Anyway, Chicken Sh#! Bingo will be held at the Barre Sculpture Studios on Blackwell Street, just an egg’s throw from SPA. Local comedians Regi B. and Sean Hunter Williams will make the event merry — though they will surely get competition from the chickens. (Chickens are funny, right?) The guys will referee decisions on just which of 49 squares acquired the most excreta, and no doubt will be deployed to break up any fractious disagreements.
“People are limited to five squares per game,” Higby notes. “Of course, we’re hoping that the winners might even donate their receipts to SPA.” Otherwise, the nonprofit arts center gets 50 percent of the night’s take.
The bennie is not only lowbrow, it’s low cost: Entry to the event is just five bucks, with Bingo rounds at $2 to $5. Between rounds, when the chickens are not plopping, participants can listen to a live bluegrass band and go on guided tours of the sculpture studio, run by master granite carver Jerry Williams (Sean’s father). Oh, and there will be activities for the kiddies, too.
“This is a very unusual, unpretentious fundraiser,” notes Higby, “and it also opens people’s minds to the fact that the art-making process is wide open.” Hence the event’s motto: “A little comedy, a little art, a little crap and a lot of fun.”
The original print version of this article was headlined "Fowl Play's the Thing at a Funny Fundraiser in Barre"