By Clay Schuldt
If Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, does that make Monday the 13th lucky? If you ask Darlene Dix, she would say yes.
On Monday, Jan. 13, Dix won $700 in a game of bar bingo at Elsie’s Bar and Grill. Dix’s big win came during the final round of black-out bingo, when the goal is to cover all the spaces on the bingo card.
Not only did Dix win, her victory came at the perfect moment. To get the night’s pot, the winner must hit black-out under 50 calls. One more call and Dix’s $700 windfall would have only been $50.
Dix was not the only winner of the night. A total of 16 bingo games were played that evening; the average prize was around $35. The prize money per game is dependent on how many are playing. Half of the games played are as standard bingo, in which players try to get five spaces in a row, but other types of patterns are played, as well.
Each week the pot grows by $50 and call numbers given for the pot increase by one, increasing the probability of a winner. Oftentimes, as the potential prize amount grows, so does the number of players.
While the big payout on Jan. 13 was $700, the pot has gone higher before. Lee Babler, who helps coordinate bar bingo, estimated the largest turnout for bar bingo was around 113. On the busy nights, it is not unusual to see bingo players using the pool table as their table.
Bar bingo has been a weekly staple at Elsie’s Bar and Grill for a year and half. Every week dozens of people try their luck.
The idea to bring bingo into Elsie’s bar originated at a Camp Winnebago board meeting. Elsie Babler, who owns the restaurant and bar on Main Street, Caledonia, is a member of the board and suggested bar bingo as an alternative fundraising event. Stumpy’s in Rushford also hosts bar bingo on Tuesday nights. Together the two have raised an estimated $30,000 for Camp Winnebago.
The camp is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the recreational needs of children with varying abilities and special needs; as well as providing vacation options for adults with developmental disabilities
Still, bar bingo needs continual support. “We could always use volunteers,” Elsie Babler said.
Anyone wishing to volunteer as number caller, a card seller or prize counter may call Elsie’s Bar and Grill.
Of course, bingo players will always be needed. Area residents in search of something to do on Mondays can always find a free space open for new players.
While Darlene Dix won the $700 pot last week, the other black-out pot has grown to $550 and someone has to win it.
Bar bingo begins at 7 p.m. every Monday night. The cost is $1 per bingo card.