By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Back in the days of the Wild West, owners of sheep and cattle clashed violently over grazing rights on the Great Plains many times. An estimated 54 men were killed in these sheep and cattle wars.
Closer to this neck of the woods, the relationship between sheep owners and at least one cattle owner is much, much friendlier.
When the 41st Sheep Shearing Festival takes place on the Common on May 19, a local dairy cow, from Roche’s Farm, will play a prominent role.
Cowpie Bingo, introduced at last year’s festival, will be back with intensified vigor. After being amply fed, the cow will saunter among 625 squares on the Common.
The owner of the square upon which she ends up taking care of business will win a $1,000 grand prize, according to E.J. Foulds, the police sergeant and Festival Committee member who is organizing the fundraiser.
This year, the squares will be sold for $10 each. Besides the grand prize, 10 squares will be drawn at random, Foulds said, and each owner will win $100.
All 625 squares were sold last year and Foulds said he’s confident that feat will be repeated this year. The 2-by-2-foot squares will be sold off starting this week at various local businesses. The squares will be sold Monday through Friday during regular business hours unless noted.
During this week, the Cowpie Bingo squares will be sold at the Salem Five Cent Savings Bank, 530 Turnpike St. Next week, April 22 through 26, McLay’s Florist, 1211 Osgood St., will have the honor of selling the squares. MTM Insurance, 1320 Osgood St., will have its turn April 29 through May 3.
Fitness Together, 73 Main St., will have squares on sale May 6 through 10, and they will be at Butcher Boy from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 11 and 18. Finally, the Lowell Five Cent Savings Bank, 498 Chickering Road – the newest bank in town – will host the Cowpie squares May 13 through 17.
The proceeds of Cowpie Bingo will help pay for the Santa Parade, which the Festival Committee organizes each year a few weeks before Christmas, Foulds said.
The Sheep Shearing Festival, also organized by the Festival Committee, will take place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Those who attend are strongly advised not to try parking near the Common, where parts of the streets will be closed.
Guests can park for free at either North Andover Middle School, at Main Street and Route 125; or Franklin School off Andover Street. A shuttle bus service, also free, will run continually between the schools and the Common for the duration of the festival.