Every Sunday for the last 40 years, locals have gathered in the car park of Little Longhorn Saloon, North Austin to play Chicken Shit Bingo. And how exactly do you play Chicken Shit Bingo, I hear you ask! Well, the premise is really quite simple: a chicken is put in a pen with a numbered bingo board on the floor and lots of food. You buy your tickets and watch patiently for the chicken to do its business, if it lands on your number you win $300 - genius.
Arriving in town we were tipped to experience this lesser-known Austin activity and our appetite for the unusual soon led us to Little Longhorn Saloon. We arrived late afternoon and were greeted by a full car park of Chicken Shit Bingo fans of all ages sitting around eating drinking and generally having a good time. In the middle of them was the Bingo pen complete with numbered floor and prime position, shadedunder a gazebo. The scorching Texas heat meant a cold beer was very much required so we made our way inside the small saloon to discover an amazing atmosphere as Austinites danced to a local country band.
The roll was called for the next round bingo round so we headed outside to buy our tickets. For $10 we got 5 numbers and were ready for action. After meeting some of the brilliant characters around the pen, sweating a bucket load and brushing up on the rule technicalities the first chicken was introduced to the crowd and placed inside the Bingo Pen. The crowd surrounding the pen began to encourage the chicken towards their numbers, employing a vast variety of bizarre sounds in an attempt to persuade the chicken their number was the best place to relieve itself. The chicken however paid no attention to any of these attempts at persuasion and set about eating as much of the bird feed that lay scattered on the floor as it possibly could.
This brilliantly bizarre scene continued for about 15 minutes until a young boy who had been animated throughout the game cried out “Shit!, 49, shit!” At this point the referee (yes there was a referee) came over to carry out the protocol of an official shit check. When he approached 49 it was evident he had a tricky call on his hands as the chicken had produced a little more liquid than normal and more than one square was covered. Much to our amusement his inspection was both thorough and lengthy which he conducted as the audience waited silently for his conclusion. Now if you’re thinking this is all a bit over the top, it’s just a game of chicken shit bingo, it is at this point that i should remind you that the prize was $300. This was a big call. After some time agonising over the square with the most shit on it the referee called in a 2nd official to help him. 49 it was - due to the sheer quantity on the square this was the final winner.
A big cheer erupted and the winner was swept inside to have his winnings announced over the mike. As we offered our congratulations and said our goodbyes we asked around for suggestions on where best to grab a bite to eat. The collective response was ‘Lucy’s Fried Chicken just next door!’ Something about this seemed slightly wrong but we decided that nothing about this was normal so why not finish our day of chickens with some fried chicken. And what delicious fried chicken it was!