From Friday, Jan. 24 to Sunday, Jan. 26, students gathered around their computers to take part in Lawrence University’s annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest.
The Great Midwest Trivia Contest is a tradition at Lawrence and this year celebrated its 49th year. The contest is called the longest running trivia contest because the last question of the previous year is asked as the first question for the next year.
Trivia teams are divided into on-campus and off-campus divisions. This year there were 18 on-campus teams and about 55 off-campus teams.
The contest is run by a student known as the Grand Master. The Grand Master has a variety of responsibilities, such as organizing the event, writing questions and settling disputes during the contest. This year’s Grand Master was senior Addy Goldberg. Goldberg was a rare Grand Master in that he has been a part of the contest all four years of his time at Lawrence.
The other students who help run the games are called trivia masters. Trivia masters perform a variety of tasks, from answering phones to entering points for each team. They also choose the music that plays while teams are trying to answer the questions.
There were twelve trivia masters this year, and junior trivia master Weronika Gajowniczek will take over next year as Grand Master.
The Great Midwest Trivia Contest is played out over the course of 50 hours. A trivia master will ask a question over the radio and teams are given three minutes to phone in the answer. If the team answers the question correctly then they are awarded five points.
“To find these questions, we watch a lot of Netflix,” Goldberg said. “If we run into something goofy and interesting then we refine that nugget of information into a question.”
Among the normal questions asked there are also action questions, which require the team to go out and perform a task. There were nine action questions asked this year. Point values change on these questions depending on the difficulty of the task.
“Action questions are a good way to get people up and moving,” junior trivia master Portia Turner said.
Some of the action questions this year included teams having to audition for the Conservatory, making a Sonic the Hedgehog video game and finding three bottles hidden around campus in the snow.
There are also theme hours where all the questions asked are related to a specific topic. According to Turner there were five “legitimate” theme hours and a few that became theme hours. One non-scheduled theme hour this year was apple hour, where one of the trivia masters chewed on an apple for an hour on air because he was angry that no one was there to answer phones.
At the end of the contest, some harder questions are asked. These questions are called Garrudas and are worth more points depending on how hard of a question it is. One of the last questions of the contest is called the Super Garruda and it is worth 100 points.
Every year, the top three teams from both divisions win prizes. The winning on-campus teams this year were Shrek out of Ten 2: The Shrekoning, with 1398 points; Bucky’s Banastitudinal Buggery Brigade, with 1232 points; and David and the Bells, with 1207 points.
For off-campus teams, the winners were Twerking for Trivia, with 1300 points; Twerking Red Headed Iowans Violating Innocent Appletonians, with 1255 points; and Hobgoblin of Little Minds, with 1250 points.
The prizes that are given out are described by Goldberg as “bull shitty” and are usually found by the trivia masters during the contest.
For the first place off-campus team, the prize is a bit more special.
“A few years back this bank used to win for off-campus teams every year,” Goldberg said. “We hated having them win so much that we didn’t want to give them a prize. So we gave them something breakable and broke it in front of them. Now it’s a tradition to do that for the winning off-campus team.”
Trivia is a well-known part of Lawrence University. It has been featured in many prominent magazines and newspapers around the nation. For students, however, it is simply a way to participate in a fun activity outside the classroom. “Trivia is a good way for people to find time to set things aside, meet up with friends you haven’t seen in a while, screw homework and stare at a computer screen,” Goldberg said.