Bingo squares are available for purchase through May 14.

Bingo squares are available for purchase through May 14.

With events canceled during the pandemic, one local elementary school is turning to a different type of fundraiser — Cow Pie Bingo.

Santa Ynez Valley Charter School’s virtual benefit in May lets parents and community members support students in a socially-distanced and fun way.

Bessie the cow will be led onto a field of marked squares. Participants bid on a square and could win $1,000 if Bessie delivers a cow pie inside that square. 

The event will be live streamed with an emcee so bidders can follow along on event day.

“We thought we might give it a go — why not?“ said organizer Kelly O’Connor, a school parent and board member, who modeled the idea after similar events held in her hometown. “All you need is a field and a cow, and we have plenty of those in the valley.

“Everyone is excited to participate in a fun and safe event while donating to a worthy cause.”

Even bidders who don’t guess the cow’s chosen square can be winners. Every ticket purchase is entered into a raffle for additional prizes, including a case of wine, gift certificates, and merchandise from local businesses.

As for Bessie, she will have 15 minutes of fame, and an extra helping of hay. 

“We are excited about this year’s fundraiser and have had some generous donations already from sponsors and families,” said director John Dewey. “Our annual gala is what usually helps support our enrichment programs, so this was a way to try and fill the gap.

“Whatever happens, we have to provide the best experience for our children. The idea of an actual cash cow is surprising and brilliant.”

The event is open to the public, as well as the school community. Bingo squares can be purchased through May 14 on the school’s MySchoolBucks website. All proceeds go to programs and materials that directly benefit students.

For more details visit the event page, or email