APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV)-Most of us have played trivia in one form or another.

The game probably lasted just a few hours and you probably answered less than 100 questions. At Lawrence University though, they take their trivia to the next level.

A group of Lawrence University students carried out a 57-year tradition known as the Great Midwest Trivia Contest.

“There’s nothing I’d rather be doing this weekend, it’s one of my favorite parts of the year,” says Riley Newton who is the head trivia master for the contest this year.

He and his team of trivia masters, 12 people in total, write hundreds of trivia questions. Newton says the preparation for the January trivia contest begins a year in advance. Newton said he first participated in the contest his freshman year at Lawrence and has been hooked ever since.

Each trivia question has multiple parts and is more like a riddle than just a question. The trivia masters have to make the questions difficult because contestants can use the internet or any other resource they need to answer the questions.

The contest lasts all weekend long, nonstop, 50 hours in total. There are 70 teams that participated this year.

The trivia masters use a Twitch stream to read out the questions to the contestants who form their own teams. There is a time limit for each team to call in to the trivia masters with an answer to the questions. The trivia masters then award points for correct answers.

All of this is done on minimal sleep.

“Caffeine, coffee, and just the fun of the contest,” says Newton.
John Cuff is an Appleton resident who is one of the contestants. He said he’s played in the contest for 44 years when he first started a team called the ‘Jabberwockies’ with some of his friends.

“It’s an opportunity for all of us to get together at least one time per year,” says Cuff.

Cuff recalled the days before the internet when he and his teammates used to raid the libraries to check out as many books as possible to help them answer the trivia questions. He says he has learned to embrace the new technology and the ways it has changed the contest over the years.

One of the things the new technology has allowed for is action questions. For these questions, contestants may be asked to take a video of themselves acting out the answer to a question or to use material they find throughout their house to build a prototype of a new insect.

The excitement of the contest is what keeps Cuff coming back each year.

There are prizes for those teams that score the most points but traditionally first place has always been given a prize that is broken.