Did you know?

This centuries-old game is still baskets of fun

By Paul Viau | Sep 04, 2013
Photo by: File photo RIGHT THIS WAY — Baskets and Bags Bingo is coming to Haywood County Fairgrounds, Friday, Sept. 13. Get your tickets B-4 it's too late. This charity event is sponsored by the Catholic Women's Circle.

B-4 the summer comes to and end I must write a column about the B-9 game that my mom taught me to play when I-16. Now that I am O-66 years old, I really enjoy this game — especially when I get to blurt out the word — B-I-N-G-O.

Did you know? — The game of BINGO is even older than I am. In fact, it can be traced back to 16th century Italy and lottery game called “Il Giuoco de Lotto d’Italia.”

The game made its way to France in the 18th century, with a different number of squares. (Why is it that the French have to change everything?)

Anyway, many varieties of lottery games evolved over the years, using grids of random numbers under a series of letters, until an enterprising American by the name of Hugh Ward “standardized” the game in the 1920s for use at carnivals in and around Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania.

Ward went on to copyright the game of “Bingo” and wrote the official rulebook in 1933. The game quickly spread through the carnival circuit, and at one traveling carnival near Atlanta in 1929, a toy merchandiser, Edwin Lowe, observed how intently the players were playing. They were using Ward’s rulebook, dried beans, and a rubber stamp. Whenever someone won the game, they would yell out the word “BEANO!” (I’m not making this up.)

My wife and I play a similar version of this game several times a week. Whenever the foods on my plate include cruciform vegetables or legumes, my wife yells out the word “BEANO,” and promptly runs to the cabinet.

By the 1940s Bingo games could be found all over the country, and around the world. In America, churches and other charity organizations often stage bingo games. Commercial bingo games can also be found at and around casinos, including in Cherokee.

In Haywood County, one of the more popular bingo events is the annual “Baskets and Bags Bingo” charity event sponsored by St. John the Evangelist Catholic Women’s Circle. This year the event promises to be even more entertaining, because I have been asked to be one of the callers. (Go figure.)

I was, of course, quite humbled by this honor, and have been “rocking the house” practicing my best Michael Buffer imitation of, “Are you ready to BINGO?”

I hope you are, because Friday, Sep. 13 is right around the corner, and this year the Catholic Women’s Circle ladies have outdone themselves. They will give away more than $1,800 worth of handcrafted Longaberger baskets, each chock-full of goodies. Bingo prizes also include more than $1,600 worth of Vera Bradley bags.

Throughout the night refreshments will be served and many door prizes will also be awarded.

The venue for “Baskets and Bags Bingo” is the Haywood County Fairgrounds, and doors open at 6 p.m., Friday, Sep. 13. Bingo starts promptly at 7 p.m.

The cost for 21 games of bingo is $20, and money raised will go to local charities.

Organizations benefitting from the event include Haywood Christian Ministry, Haywood County Department of Social Services, MedWest-Haywood Hospice, The Open Door, KARE, REACH, The Community Kitchen, Good Samaritan Clinic, Mountain Projects, Camp Ability, Haywood Public Transit and Meals on Wheels.

Bingo players can purchase single tickets or reserve a table of eight by calling Ann Simmons at 456-3901 or St. John Catholic Church at 456-6707.

Call today — B-4 it’s too late.

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