MOUNT AIRY — Winning $1,000 is never easy, but it's usually not smelly.
Come noon on Saturday, the luck of the plop will determine the winner at the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company's Barnyard Bingo fund-raiser.
"It could happen in 30 seconds or it could take two hours," MayorGerald R. Johnson Jr. said.
It all will depend on the digestive system of a 1,450-pound Holstein with a name almost as long as the square in which she'll be asked to relieve herself: Penta-Pat Astro Anastasia.
Each ticket-holder will be counting on the cow to plant a "meadow muffin" on his or her spot on a grid marked on a field at the firemen's carnival grounds at Ridge and Twin Arch roads.
The winner collects if he or she holds a $5 ticket for the 1-foot square wherethe cow chip lands. Ticket-holders for the four adjoining squares win $250, said Janet Kipe, assistant treasurer of the fire company and an organizer of the event.
The fire company hopes to raise $15,000at the game to help pay for its new station on North Main Street, President Patrick Holmes said. There will be as many squares on the field as there are tickets sold. The grid is expected to be about 30 yards by 40 yards in size.
Johnson, who has witnessed these games in other fields, said he expects the atmosphere will be "festive and anxious -- because money is involved. You're talking about $1,000."
The mayor, County Commissioner President Donald I. Dell and Maryland Farm Bureau President C. William Knill are judging the contest and will be called upon to decide the winning square if the dung should landbetween two squares.
If that happens, the winner will be the square with the most manure, Johnson said.
Ticket-holders will be ableto buy small bags of feed for $1 to entice the cow to their squares,Kipe said.
The star of the show is owned by Rebecca Patrick, a 13-year-old 4-H'er from Woodbine in Howard County. Her family raises Holsteins -- a breed of dairy cows -- at Maple Dell Farm and will be washing and clipping the cow for the big event, said Ann Patrick, Rebecca's grandmother.
Ann Patrick also has attended Barnyard Bingo games in other places and said dairy cows usually relieve themselves more often than beef cattle.
But, "It's a long wait sometimes," she said.
While they're watching, ticket-holders may buy lunch, Kipe said.
The fire company's new building -- three times as large as itscurrent building downtown -- should be finished by Sept. 1, Holmes said.
The 6 acres it sits on cost $300,000 and the building will cost $1.7 million, he said. The company has raised $200,000 so far, he said.
The current firehouse is for sale for $515,000, Holmes said.Several people have looked at the building, which is located downtown on Main Street and has a car wash in back, he said.
Tickets for the bingo game are on sale at town businesses through the end of today. Tickets must be purchased in advance, Kipe said.