If you grew up in an ag town, farm animals games are probably nothing new to you. Jim’s a perfect example. He was raised in Petaluma, California, the Chicken and Egg Capital of the World, a place where every boy memorized the town’s unofficial slogan:
“Donkeys dicks and cows titties. We’re the boys from Petaluma City. Awwwwww…weaselshit!”
Clearly, you can take the boy out of the sticks, but you can’t get the red off his neck. And even in ultra trendy Austin, Texas, diehard locals still play an old timey game with farm animals. Every Sunday night they meet for Austin Chickenshit Bingo at Little Ginny’s Longhorn Saloon.
Add it to Your Bucket List: Austin Chickenshit Bingo at Ginny’s
I’ve always heard of Chickenshit Bingo and wondered if it was as much fun as outlets like the Wall Street Journal and The Travel Channel portray it. So while staying in town last month, I hauled Jim and Sam over to Ginny’s on a warm Sunday night for this legendary game of chance (just don’t call your bet a “bet” — it’s a “donation” according to Ginny’s!).
Ginny’s is a grungy windowless beer tavern with cold, cheap brews and a friendly greeting for everyone. This watering hole is a refreshing break from the trendy, hipster bars that overtook the Austin music scene (and not for the better in my opinion). Recently other Austin bars have tried to duplicate chickenshit magic, but I’m pretty certain that nothing can compare to the original.
Every Sunday since 2001, hundreds of people cram into Ginny’s for Chickenshit Bingo. Or at least they try to go inside where the game happens. The tiny bar is so claustrophobic, most of the real action is outside in the parking lot, where a festive atmosphere slowly percolates all afternoon. The cheap beer and free hot dogs help turn it into a fun party where everyone, including dogs and kids, are welcome.
Out back, two plump chickens raised on healthy organic feed await their weekly spotlight. Then finally, two rounds of Chickenshit Bingo begin. To participate, you make a $2 donation to the pot (Ginny’s says they don’t keep any of the money). Then the time comes for Round 1.
The chickens are brought inside where they’re placed on a plywood grid with 54 painted numbers. Nobody can ever predict how long the chickens will take to perform. It could be five minutes or an hour. But if a chicken leaves her mark on your number, you win!
It’s nice to see that despite the ginormous gentrification and scads of moneyed hipsters who altered Austin weirdness, this adorable Americana tradition is still going strong. It was the one of the few places in the city where real people gather, not just endless parades of bearded white boys in skinny jeans.
If you’re ever deep in the heart of Texas, be sure to catch Chickenshit Bingo at Ginny’s, because it’s probably one of the few remaining ways you’ll ever get to experience the people and feel of the original Austin.