Sunday, September 2, 2012

Carlton Chicken Swap: A Rural Tradition

It’s that time of year again, with August Harvest Festivals and County Fairs all across the midwest. Here in our region we also have the Carlton Chicken Swap.

The event used to be held at the Carlton Feed Mill, which closed last year. Nevertheless, the town of Carlton rallied to keep the Chicken Swap alive and next Saturday, September 8, the semi-annual event will be held at the new Four Seasons Sports Complex across the street from Carlton Bike Rental and Repair.

Some of the happenings next Saturday will include a pancake breakfast from 8:00-10:00 a.m., the usual swapping of chickens and other fowl, and Chicken Bingo, a favorite pasttime out this way in certain places, or so I’ve heard.

If you don't know what chicken bingo is, well, here's the skinny. There's a pen set up with a chicken inside. Like the grid on a checkerboard or bingo card, the area within the pen has been set up in a grid format with the squares numbered, one hundred in all. Next, players fork over a dollar for each square they wish to own before the game begins. Once the 100 squares are accounted for, the chicken goes to work walking about within the pen. When the chicken poops, you have a winner, the winner being the person who owns the square where the poop landed. Odds are always the same: 100 to 1.

I can picture some folks muttering, “Please poop on me,” as they get so identified with their rented spaces. I say rented because as soon as the poop is cleaned up, others will be buying it up. Half the winnings will go to players and the other half to a designated charity. For some reason it seems the chicken should also get a piece of the take, but then again maybe she just enjoys strutting her stuff and pooping wherever she pleases.

There will be food grilling from 11:00 on, I believe, adjacent to Art Dimensions (where a few of my paintings are available for sale, incidentally). And there’s going to be good old fashioned jugband music a-playin’ there as well, featuring Lee “Colorblind” Johnson and friends. We’ll be practicing a bit this afternoon to scrape the rust off our washboards, instruments and vocal chords.

September 8. It will be worth going out of your way for. Make new friends or meet old ones. And if you get bored, rent a bike and head on down the Munger Trail. It’ll be good for your heart. They even have bicycles built for two, which looks pretty cool.

Maybe I'll see you there?

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