It isn’t for the weak. It certainly isn’t for those who’d expect something useful in return for their difficult and often creative problem solving efforts.
For many, it’s the best weekend of the year.
The 55th edition of the Great Midwest Trivia Contest begins tonight at precisely 10:00:37 p.m. from Lawrence University’s WLFM student radio station.
And for 50 consecutive hours to follow, teams listening in from campus, from across the Fox Cities and from far beyond will test the limits of their research capabilities. By night and by day, they’ll scour some of the least browsed nooks of the Internet to find answers to some of the most inconsequential questions ever devised.
“It’s more of a scavenger hunt than it is trivia,” said senior Allegra Taylor, who is serving as trivia headmaster this year.
It’s a Lawrence tradition and it’s one beloved by eager players across the Fox Valley.
The first contest was held in 1966. Since WLFM went from radio to digital broadcast, the tradition has drawn fans and players from around the world. Organizers are expecting nearly 100 teams to get in on the festivities.
For the unfamiliar, this isn’t the kind of trivia that friends play at the bar or around a game table.
If Trivial Pursuit was a slow jog, the Great Midwest Trivia Contest would be an Iron Man.
It takes endurance. It takes a dedicated team. It takes a good game plan that includes sleeping in shifts.
Team headquarters have a war-room feel with computers on laps throughout the room.
It’s a weekend fueled by pizza, Doritos and Mountain Dew.
These are questions that people couldn’t answer from the tops of their heads. In this Internet world, trivia masters have a more difficult and creative task in crafting their questions than their early predecessors. It wouldn’t be fun, after all, if answers were just a Google search away.
“It’s tricky,” Taylor said. “We don’t want them to be impossible, but we don’t want them to be easy. We try to have a couple steps. You go to one website and that’ll give you your first clue.”
The trivia masters did their best to test their questions for quality before they’ll reach the audience this weekend.
The event will feature 300 questions before concluding at midnight on Monday morning. Highlights include hourly action questions. There will be one hour of more traditional trivia during the course of the contest. On the final day of the contest come the Garudas — very difficult questions — topped off by the final, Super Garuda. Per tradition, the impossible finale question returns as the first question of the following year’s contest.
Registration for the contest begins tonight at 8 p.m.
Taylor said work on the contest takes the better part of the year and she continued with the final touches late on Thursday.
She’s honored to do it. It’s in her blood.
Taylor put together a team during her freshman year that took third place on campus. As a sophomore, she was on the winning team.
She said that after graduation, you’ll know her plans for every final weekend in January.
She’s in love with the game, the competition and the relationships that tend to build over 50 hours of play.
She also loves the tradition and she feels a sense of obligation to its history in her leading role this weekend.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Taylor said. “It’s such a big thing and so many people are so invested. I’d be a little more nervous if I didn’t care about it so much.”