If it’s Tuesday night, the Already Tired Teachers are decompressing at a table at the Scrub Oaks restaurant and pub on Ramsey Street.
If it’s Thursday night or Sunday afternoon, the Ale Yeahs are yukking it up in yak shirts at Lake Gaston Brewing Co. in downtown Fayetteville or Dirtbag Ales in Hope Mills, respectively.
On other days or at other times or at other restaurants and bars around town, lots of other strangely monikered groups are gathered around tables for food, drink, fellowship, fun and… hard-fought competitions based on their members’ knowledge of and ability to guess about random subjects such as Disney movies, the Ryder Cup, Fortune 500 CEOs and SpongeBob SquarePants.
“I know lots of useless trivia,” reveals travel consultant and Ale Yeah charter member Heather Miller. Except: Is such knowledge really useless if it helps your team win? Or, at least, if it helps your team members to laugh themselves silly in the process of competing?
Clearly, an argument is there to be made.
Trivia contests, sometimes mixed with bingo, have become popular weekly events at numerous restaurants and bars around town. Depending on the location, teams compete for prizes like t-shirts, gift cards and ball caps. Always at stake: bragging rights.
Scrub Oaks has been holding weekly trivia contests for seven years, said Gwen Holtsclaw, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Tim. For the first year, the restaurant paid a company to come up with the game’s questions and answers and to provide a host for the weekly event.
When the hired host insulted Fayetteville one night, the Holtsclaws decided they could handle the trivia contest themselves. Since then, Gwen, a former English and journalism teacher, has come up with the questions.
“Questions are very stream of consciousness,” she said. “I’ll see something in the paper or on TV and it just catches my interest and then I go down that Google rabbit hole.”
She also keeps score during the competitions while Tim hosts, reading the questions and occasionally needling the teams in a good-natured way.
Teams compete to win prizes for that night and for the most points over several weeks. Gwen Holtsclaw said the format and the contest itself keeps many of the same people coming in every Tuesday night and brings in new people.
The Scrub Oaks Trebeks – Blace and Kelly Albert – are among newbies. A military couple who’d previously lived in Fayetteville, they returned recently and are living in nearby Kings Grant. They heard about the trivia night and have been coming weekly since – though they dropped their original team name, the Team at the Bar.
“We love it,” Kelly Albert said. “They make you feel like a community.”
Scrub Oaks’ long-timers include the Already Tired Teachers, whose roster of St. Patrick Catholic School personnel has shifted over the past five years. The current members – two current and two retired teachers from the school – say they miss the priest whose knowledge of trivia used to push them over the top even when their team name was Points Don’t Matter.
But retired English teacher Christine Hatcher, math teacher Melissa Miller, retired religion teacher Deb Rosenberg and art and computer science teacher Jodi College keep coming back every week because they love hanging out with each other and trying to figure out the answers to questions like: What does UNESCO stand for? Which gladiator led a revolt against Rome in 73 BC? And name every part of speech in the following sentence: Consequently, men and women are responsible for the defeat of returning champions.
Of the detestable latter question, Hatcher, the retired English teacher, said: “I think I’ve got this.”
Open a little more than a year, Lake Gaston Brewing Co. on Hay Street started its weekly trivia and bingo contests this past summer.
Restaurant co-owner Troy Rassmussen said the decision was a no-brainer. “It’s something that’s cool and hip. Everybody likes it,” he said. “It resonates with what we’re trying to do here.” He said Lake Gaston aims to create a comfortable, fun and family-friendly neighborhood atmosphere. Trivia goes right along with that, he said.
Lake Gaston uses Half-Witted Entertainment to host its weekly trivia nights. Keith Fisher, the company owner, is also a popular host, who also works the Dirtbag Ales contests on Sundays. The members of the Ale Yeahs appreciate his humor and his ability to take a joke.
“He loves to be heckled and we love to heckle,” said team member Heather Scarboro.
Rassmussen said when Lake Gaston decided to hold trivia nights, it wanted to avoid conflicts with other nearby businesses. But its trivia nights ended up being scheduled the same night as those at Bright Light Brewing Co., also downtown.
“It’s been OK,” Rassmussen said. “There’s plenty of trivia to go around.”
There is indeed plenty. If you’re interested in checking out a trivia competition, here’s a list of local places that we’re aware of. Call and check before going to make sure the event is being held. Apologies to any locations with trivia contests that were accidentally omitted.
Mondays: Mellow Mushroom, 7 p.m.
Tuesdays: Scrub Oaks, 7 p.m.
Wednesdays: Latitude 35 Bar & Grill; Mash House, 7 p.m. (every other Wednesday)
Thursdays: Lake Gaston Brewing Co., 6:30 p.m.; Bright Light Brewing Co., 7 p.m.; On-After Bar & Grub, 8 p.m.
Fridays: Grapes & Hops III (every other Friday), 7 p.m.
Saturdays: World of Beer, 3 p.m.; Rustic Burger, 7 p.m.
Sundays: Dirtbag Ales, 1 p.m.