A Bingo Tradition Ends

A Bingo Tradition Ends

Written by: ava carson on 02/07/2012 23:05

“Mr. Bingo,” is what Vern Herrick’s friends affectionately call him, ran bingo at the Poulsbo Sons of Norway Lodge dating back to 1972. The decision to close what not an easy one but due to steadily losing patrons the doors were forced to shut down forever two weeks ago.

Herrick has a long history in Sons of Norway bingo that spanned 40 years and his wife was the bingo fan who played 25 to 30 games a night while he played four. He was then asked to help run bingo hall and has been called “Mr. Bingo” ever since.

Herrick recalls seeing more than 200 bingo players in a night. “I even had to shut the doors once or twice,” he said. In the past few months the number of players dwindled to 35 or so.

This is not the first time they shut down when in 1992, the Suquamish Clearwater Casino opened as a bingo hall and they lost many of their customers. The Sons of Norway reopened bingo in 2005 after the casino stopped offering bingo.

“Ever since it started again, it’s gone downhill,” said Jane Speer, a bingo volunteer blaming it on the economy.

“The big halls have money to pay big enough prizes to keep people [coming],” she said. Even with regular players Speer said, “It’s the reality of the times, where we have to cut the things [that are] not profitable for the lodge.”

Bingo use to be profitable bringing $30,000 a year, which helped pay for taxes and insurance. Herrick said one particularly popular year, in the 1980s, bingo brought in $80,000 for the lodge’s general fund.
The only time Herrick missed a bingo game was when he had hip replacement surgery.

His Wednesday nights will now be free but says he’ll miss working with his fellow lodge members the most. “I like to help out the lodge,” Herrick said. “I had a responsibility, I felt.”


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