By Bella Butler MANAGING EDITOR
Dick Allgood Bingo Night is produced by Outlaw Partners. Outlaw Partners publishes Explore Big Sky.
BIG SKY – There isn’t much strategy to the game of bingo, but it only took a single round to get a packed crowd riled up in friendly competition at the second annual Dick Allgood Bingo Night at the Big Sky Events Arena on July 19.
Bingo night celebrates the life of late Big Sky local, veteran and American Legion Post No. 99 Adjutant Dick Allgood. Complete with 50/50 raffles and silent auctions, the event is also a fundraiser for local schools Morningstar Learning Center and the Big Sky Discovery Academy.
“I hope that every fundraiser I ever host is this fun,” said Mariel Butan, executive director of Morningstar. “It kind of embodies Big Sky that we’re showing up for each other and having it be a really fun way to do that.”
Butan said that funds raised for Morningstar support various initiatives, including paying teachers livable wages and providing them housing in Big Sky, among other efforts.
Scott Poloff, head of school for the Discovery Academy, said funds raised for his organization support early childhood education and school choice in Big Sky.
“For us at Discovery Academy, this year we’re giving out over $160,000 in tuition assistance,” Poloff said. “The money raised here tonight will help us allow for families who maybe can’t afford an independent school-choice education.”
In addition to fundraising, the night was defined by high energy and competitive spirit. Melanie Callander was one of the first winners of the night but missed the opportunity to call out her triumphant “Bingo!” when she got up to refill wine glasses for her and her friend, Pam Salestrom, who got the glory of announcing the win. Salestrom and Callander were first timers to the Dick Allgood Bingo Night but have become familiar with the game at bingo nights hosted by the Legion at the Riverhouse BBQ & Events during shoulder seasons, where Allgood used to volunteer.
“It’s just great fun,” Salestrom exclaimed. Callander added that the exciting atmosphere added to the experience.
“For the community it feels wonderful,” Salestrom said.
Through 10 rounds of normal Bingo, a winner’s circle and a high-stakes blackout round, Bingo players of all ages were immersed in their stamping, keeping watchful eyes on their neighbor’s cards. At the end of a round, players would throw their losing Bingo cards at the winners.
Champs from each round received $100 in cash and gift cards from various local businesses. The winner of the blackout round won $500 in cash, $50 to The Rocks Tasting Room and Liquor Store, a 75-minute massage at Sanctuary and $25 gift cards to Hey Bear, Yellowstone Foods and Regen Market.
Right before the blackout round, Outlaw Partners also donated two VIP tickets to its Aug. 12-13 Wildlands Festival, which the recipient donated to Callender, who won the winner’s circle.
Jack Hudspeth, Post No. 99’s current adjutant who started running offseason Bingo events with Allgood more than 10 years ago, said winning is certainly the best part of the game. Hudspeth was joined on stage by several other Legion members last night including Brett Slehofer, who called the numbers all night in memory of Allgood.
“Dick could be a little grumpy,” Hudspeth said with a chuckle, recalling bingo nights passed with Allgood. “But he was also real friendly to all the people because he knew a lot of people.”
The coveted Dick Allgood Bingo Night trophy, now filled with crumpled bingo cards from last night, will take residence with the new winner until next year.