Lytton River Festival goes to the chickens with ‘bingo’

Chicken poop 'bingo' is always ahighlight of the annual festival, as is the climbing wall, which attracts adventurers of all ages.

A chicken struts its stuff during an event that is unique to Lytton.

A chicken struts its stuff during an event that is unique to Lytton.

Bernie Fandrich

Chickens are one of the stars at the Lytton River Festival.

Every Labour Day weekend for more than a decade, Pat Maw’s Botanie Valley chickens are fed extra portions of chop (in this case top of the line grower mash) in preparation for their performance at the festival as part of chicken poop “bingo”.

Mostly a Lytton invention, it’s a hilarious “game” involving you, a toonie, a chicken, a few chicken droppings, and anticipation and tension.

The well-fed chicken wanders around in a cage on a numbered floor. When it poops— applause, cat calls, groans, whistles—on a number, the lucky number-holder shares the proceeds with the sponsoring Lytton community club.

Chicken poop “bingo” draws in the crowds from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 3. Check it out: you’ll love it.

The popular Lytton River Festival has been around a long time, and so have some key events.

Besides the pooping chickens, the kids’ climbing wall, kayaking in the Lytton swimming pool, and fire spinners continue to be magnets that draw crowds.

On Saturday afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m., the climbing wall magically appears, and so do the kids. Line-ups form, and after a climb to the top many get back in line to do it all again. And again. And again.

The climbing wall is a magnet for those wanting to hit the heights. Photo by Jim Steer

Not only is this a challenging activity, but it also creates a huge sense of accomplishment, and often builds self-esteem in the young climbers. Since the first festival in 2004, Nzenman Child and Family Development Centre has repeatedly sponsored the popular climbing wall.

As soon as the wall is lowered, the doors to the Lytton swimming pool open and the river kayaks appear.  Although it isn’t a wave pool with rapids, there’s plenty of action as basic skills are taught before the paddlers head off doing twists and turns around the pool.

No doubt their imagination has them running class 4 rapids as they splash their way around under the watchful eye of professional kayaker and raft guide Braden Fandrich from Kumsheen Rafting Resort (the event sponsor), and the pool lifeguards.

Kayaking at the Lytton pool is another popular River Festival event.

A few hours later, at 8:30 on Saturday evening, everyone gathers around the stage to be mesmerized by the fire spinners. Lytton’s own Mary Martin is joined by three spinners from Kelowna this year.

“This has probably been the most popular event at the festival since its inception,” says Nonie McCann, president of the Lytton River Festival Society. “We talked briefly about giving it a rest for a year, but everyone insisted it remain. So we brought in some new spinners and presto! our most popular event is here again.”

There are lots of new activities scheduled as well. Matt Henry—one of the very best wizards to visit the festival—will be roving through the crowds with his magic show all Saturday afternoon.

Being entertained and baffled by Matt is reason enough to come to the Lytton festival. It’s non-stop live entertainment from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon, when the new Savage Society production The Boy Who Was Abandoned makes its debut. Come on down to Lytton to check it all out this weekend.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, go online at And remember: everything is totally free!