How many bars and restaurants in Bellingham do trivia nights? The answer: over 14. Trivia is one of the most popular activities for folks in Bellingham. This question and answer game regularly fills restaurants and pubs with teams of players ready for friendly competition.
“Every night that we have it, all of our booths and tables get filled up,” said Dennis Wiebe, the kitchen lead at Flatstick Pub.
Flatstick Pub has been doing trivia since fall 2019.
“I would say we have on average six or seven regular teams, and that makes up about at least 30 to 40 people,” said Aidan Gaffney, who bartends on trivia nights at Flatstick Pub.
Trivia requires team building and relying on one another to achieve a common goal. It brings people together in a relaxed environment outside of daily life. Teams of up to six people compete against one another to answer niche questions.
“It’s one of our busiest weekly taproom events,” said Robyn Preston, the event manager at Kulshan Brewing Company Two in the Roosevelt district. “It packs the house. It really fills up, which is super fun.”
Being on a team with friends is a big part of what draws people to come play.
“You can bounce ideas off each other and overall it helps winning, but if we aren’t talking about winning, it’s just a fun little bonding exercise,” said Tiffany Hollis, who has played multiple rounds of trivia at McKays’s Taphouse and Pizzeria.
Even the MCs notice this comradery.
“My very favorite thing about what I do is that week over week I get to watch people visit with one another in that space,” said Randall Ragsdale, more commonly known as Quizmaster Randall.
Ragsdale is in the profession of writing trivia questions and received this title while hosting trivia over Zoom during the pandemic. His trivia on Zoom continues to meet Tuesdays at 7 p.m. He also hosts trivia on Mondays at 7 p.m. at the Culture Cafe in the Herald Building in Bellingham.
“I run a casually competitive, seriously fun game,” Ragsdale said.
The biggest part of trivia for Ragsdale is making sure players feel valued. He likes how teammates encourage and cheer each other on.
“If you have one player who knows nine out of 10 questions and one player who knows one out of 10 questions, but nobody else knows that question, they are exactly as valuable as the person who knew nine,” Ragsdale said.
When writing questions, Ragsdale often learns new information, and he prefers to write questions on subjects he doesn’t know a lot about. He tries to incorporate views and histories from as many different perspectives of the world as he can in his questions.
The most important part of an MC’s job is keeping the crowd entertained and in good spirits.
“I’m moving around the room, I’m connecting with individual teams, I'm encouraging people as they play,” Ragsdale said. He enjoys being able to emote more and the physicality of being in person, but he likes the Zoom trivia as well.
Not every place has a Quizmaster but just about every bar or pub in town has a trivia night.
Flatstick Pub hosts two rounds of trivia every Tuesday starting at 7 and 8 p.m. K2 has trivia night every Wednesday at 7 p.m. McKay’s trivia takes place at the same time. But those are only a few from the wide array of what is available in town; there are many more to choose from.
“I think we look at competition often as aggressive or combative, but I think that true competition is just growth,” Ragsdale said. “You’re just trying to get past and over things, and that’s a very supportive thing.”
Sophie Bechkowiak (she/her) is writing for the opinion beat at The Front this quarter. She is in her fourth year at Western working towards a journalism news/editorial major and a philosophy minor. On her days off she enjoys thrifting, art, watching documentaries and goofing around with friends.
You can reach her at email@example.com.