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Purple Cow Patty Bingo highlights Rotary fund-raiser

October 17, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - One way or another, it all came down to cows Saturday at the Williamsport Rotary fund-raiser on the grounds of The Improved Order of Red Men Tribe 84.

The day began at 11 a.m. with a barbecue cook-off and wound down around 6 p.m. with a lengthy game of Purple Cow Patty Bingo.

Liz Thompson, president of the Williamsport Rotary and city editor of The Herald-Mail, said the group did the purple cow portion of the fund-raiser last year and decided to build on it.

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"Our executive board met one night trying to think what we might do along with it," Thompson said. "We thought barbecue, since it had something to do with cows."

Seven vendors - some amateur and some professional - participated in the barbecue cook-off. Three judges - Betty McDonald, director of food services for Canteen Corp., James Kercheval, owner of Kerch's Southern BBQ and a Washington County commissioner, and Donald Hoffman, owner of Hoffman's Quality Meats and Catering - were on hand to rate their fare.

"We had some tough decisions," Hoffman said. "The amateurs did a very good job as well as professionals."

Following the announcement of the barbecue cook-off winners, three cows - whose services were donated by DeBaugh Farms of Boonsboro - headed to a grassy area enclosed with orange plastic fencing behind the picnic pavilion.

The field had been separated into white, spray-painted squares, which coincided with a chart indicating the numbers of ticket holders. Nearly 900 people had paid $5 per ticket, in hopes that the cows would mark their spot, making them one of three lucky cash prize winners.

Purple Cow Patty Bingo began at 4 p.m. A crowd gathered along the hill overlooking the field. By 4:30 p.m., none of the cows had done their business.

"The cows are not performing," said Anna Hershey of Hagerstown, whose husband had purchased five tickets.

At 5 p.m., still nothing.

"I don't know cow psychology. Maybe they all want to hold out?" Rotary member Bonnie Errico said.

"We should have someone fire a pistol shot - scare it out of them," said Maury Werth, 87, a Rotary member from Williamsport.

The cows needed to go home at 6 p.m. for milking. Rotary members decided if the cows had no movement by 5:30 p.m., Rotary members would draw winning ticket numbers from a barrel.

At 5:30 p.m., one of the cows took an unexpected course of action - she hopped the fence and ran with wild abandon across the Red Men grounds.

As Rotary members and farm hands chased her down and what remained of the crowd roared with laughter, one of the cows within the fencing finally had a movement, marking the spot of a $250 winner, Rick Toms.

That prize-bestowing cow was taken to the trailer, while the runaway cow was returned to the fenced-in area along with the other remaining cow.

Encouraged by one cow's movement, organizers decided to leave the other two cows on the field until 6 p.m. At that time, the cows returned to their trailer for the trip home.

Rotary members drew tickets from a barrel to determine the two remaining prize winners. The $1,500 first prize went to Todd Morren, while the $750 second prize went to Don Hessong.

Proceeds from the event, which Thompson said she hoped would be around $2,000, will go toward Williamsport Rotary projects to benefit the community, including an effort to provide new playground equipment for Byron Memorial Park.

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