Golden Eagle Pony Baseball held their annual Burrito Bingo fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Blue Goose Fruit Shed in Loomis, California.

This popular fundraiser has been held for four years, and was inspired by a local soroptomist who holds a tostado bingo every year. Burrito Bingo is an event featuring a burrito dinner and 20 bingo games. They held the event this year to raise money for their league to fund the purchase of equipment, repair the baseball fields and also to buy a field prep vehicle.

During the year the team also holds a raffle that is successful. Players are given tickets to sell for $10 and the league raffles off $1,500 for first place and they also purchase prizes for second and third place. But everyone looks forward to the Burrito Bingo event. This can be either family or evening just for the adults. “That’s what is so great about it. Some bring their kids and they play bingo. Others want an adult night out so they don’t bring the kids. Everyone has a great time,” said Debbie O’Neil. O’Neil was an organizer of this year’s event.

Tickets for the event are $20 and this includes dinner and 20 games of bingo plus punch, coffee and then cookies for dessert. The group also sells soda, bottled water, beer, margaritas. They sell raffle tickets throughout the night for leftover prizes (3/$1 or arms length $10), extra bingo games, and also a 50/50 raffle.

The Secret to Success: Planning Early

Debbie O’Neil suggests that you start early if you would like to do this type of fundraiser. “You need to start early to reserve the hall for a date that will work best for you. An early start on prize donations helps too. We ask for donations from local merchants – we always purchase a grand prize for the last game of the night “black out”. This year we bought a Nintendo Wii,” said O’Neil. She tries to have at least 2 to 3 prizes per bingo game, so that if they have more than one winner they can “make everyone happy.”

“We usually have an A table (one prize list) and a B table (a second prize list) and each game is assigned to a table so the winner can pick from the prizes on that table. We sell raffle tickets thru out the night to raffle off left over prizes. I always try to make each game prize in the $30-$50 range,” said O’Neil.

Bingo Games Are Popular Favorites

To play the bingo games themselves, they just use the same patterns every year. “One is four corners, game two is Railroad Tracks, game three is any bingo and we always spell P, O, N, Y since that is our organization. Some game takes longer than others. We provide game patterns and a list of the prizes to each guest so that they can follow along and see what prizes are left,” said O’Neil.

Great Organization and Terrific Volunteers Make An Event Run Smoothly

Most of the shopping for the event is done the day before, because items need to be refrigerated. “We are fortunate enough to have a local Jimboys who provides us with our main dish; he does this in trade for a sponsorship. This is so nice because you don’t have to spend the day cooking,” said O’Neil. The group decorates the night before and preps as much of the food as possible. O’Neil has been very pleased because clean up usually goes really well because everyone always pitches in and helps when the event is over.

O’ Neil states that having a plan is essential to this burrito bingo fundraiser. “I would leave yourself enough time to have 2-3 meetings with your helpers. This year I had one person handling prizes, one handling decorations, one handled the food, 1 picked up the margarita machine, we always wear T-shirts that match and someone handled that and I was able to oversee everything and do the shopping. You can do all the shopping in 1 day,” said O’Neil.

“I always let people sign up for jobs so they do something they want to do. You need at least 6-7 servers and kitchen runners (restocking food). Usually 2-3 greeters are also needed. When the guest arrive we give them a ticket to provide at the dinner buffet, their bingo tickets, and they can buy drink tickets,” said O’Neil. They sell margaritas and beer which are “huge profit” items for the group. They also sell extra packs of bingo tickets in books of 10. The group uses their entire panel of board members. They have about 15 to 17 people. “Usually there are 2 greeters, 6-7 servers and kitchen runners to restock food. 1-2 people in the kitchen heating and filling bowls, 2 bartenders, then after everyone has eaten the servers move out onto the floor as ‘runners’,” said O’Neil. Runners sell raffle tickets, 50/50 tickets, check bingo cards, take out trash and do a little bit of everything.

Easy-to-do Publicity Makes An Event Popular With The Community

The event has been popular with just about everyone. For publicity they have used a number of sources that have worked well for them. “We rely on work of mouth, selling tickets thru the league, and the local paper. We actually have family members who come from out of town because they have so much fun,” said O’Neil. After running the event for four years, the group is confident that they have the logistics well-organized to create a successful and popular event. “I was told this year was the smoothest and most fun ever!” said O’Neil.

Posted on 17 August 2007

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