The Annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest: An infamous Lawrence tradition


The Lawrentian, Jan 29, 2010.

Lawrence history through the archives
Julia Stringfellow

Who is the only horse jockey known to have won a race while dead? What is the name of the dog that belongs to the boy on the Cracker Jack box? What do Diane Sawyer, David Letterman, Dick Van Dyke and Raquel Welch have in common? Answers to these questions are at the end of this article.

Questions like the ones above make up the tradition of the trivia contest at Lawrence. The contest is a highlight of the month of January, a time when exciting events are needed to help deal with the never-ending snow and frigid temperatures.

The competition, which takes place each last weekend in January, was started in 1966 by student James B. deRosset. The contest is comprised of 50 hours of consecutive questions beginning 10:00:37 p.m. the Friday of the weekend and concluding at midnight Sunday.

Trivia questions are highly random, and usually feature a "Death and Destruction" hour and several action questions that often require teams to leave the comfort of the indoors and head out into the January weather to find the answer to the question.

If you are on campus during Trivia weekend, you will likely see trivia players around the WLFM studio in the Music-Drama Center while action questions are being answered. I personally have witnessed cross-dressing Disney characters entering the building and cars backing up to the Music-Drama Center and individuals jumping out of the trunk and running into the building.

Teams with the highest scores at the end of the contest are declared the winners in on-campus and off-campus categories and receive prizes such as refrigerators, stainless-steel bedpans, and bags filled with several hundred "Try a Little Kindness" buttons.

In recent years, the awards ceremony held at the end of the contest has taken place in front of Memorial Chapel in the early hours of Monday morning. There is a different motto for each year, including 1968's slogan, "The greatest event since Liberace left Menasha."

A poster and shirt are also created each year for the contest, and in the past have featured the face of a Lawrence president and an armadillo, the mascot of the contest.

The contest is known nationwide, as is evident by the many articles that have been written about it in publications such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Playboy. There have also been billboard advertisements about the contest, including a billboard in Wall, South Dakota, where the famous Wall Drug Store is located.

This year's trivia contest begins Friday, Jan. 29, and goes through midnight Sunday. The webcast can be heard at the WLFM Web site, http://www.lawrence.edu/sorg/wlfm/.

Drew Baumgartner is this year's Grand Trivia Master and the person to contact if you have any questions, no matter how random, about this year's trivia contest.

Now, the answers to the questions at the beginning of this article: No. 1 Frank Hayes, No. 2 Dingo, No. 3 They were all weather forecasters.

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