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The Great Midwest Trivia Contest, or Midwest Trivia Contest, is held each year in Appleton, Wisconsinmarker, broadcast over Lawrence University's radio station, WLFM. It has a claim as the longest running college bowl trivia contest. Beginning with Trivia XLI in 2006, the contest went to a webcast-only format after WLFM ceased FM broadcasting.


The contest begins at 10:00:37 p.m. on the Friday of last weekend in January. It ends at midnight on Sunday for a total of approximately 50 consecutive hours. Students are appointed "trivia masters" and they administer the contest. Every year, a new head trivia master, called the "Grand Master," is appointed.

Trivia masters make up the questions, and teams are given 3 minutes to answer each question. All teams that answer the question received its points. Most questions are worth 5 points each. At the end a few more difficult questions called Garrudas are worth more with more time given to answer them. The final, most difficult question ā€“ dubbed the "Super Garruda" ā€“ is worth 100 points. The endeavor is governed by the Trivia Credo: "Trivia is meant to be entertainment and should be perceived solely in that light." The teams with the highest scores are declared the winners in on-campus and off-campus categories, receiving prizes such as pink plastic flamingos and stainless-steel bedpans. The Great Midwest Trivia Contest is known as the "World's Longest Running Trivia Contest" because of its custom of asking the previous year's garruda as the first question of the next year's contest.

Questions used include "What was Holden Caulfield's middle name?" and "In 2004, which nation drank the most coffee per capita?" (The answers are "Morrisey" and "Finlandmarker," respectively.) On-campus teams are occasionally asked to do special action questions such as doing a skit based on question hour theme categories, a poem on a topic, or create a palindrome.


The contest was founded in 1966 by James Bailey deRosset as an alternate for a serious academic retreat with professors (called "Encampment Weekend"). It may be the oldest college-based radio trivia contest in the United States. Lawrence's inaugural edition on April 29, 1966 predates both the presumed May debut of the biannual Williams College Trivia Contest by a week or so and the February 1969 debut of the Stevens Point Media Trivia Contest by three years. However, the precise date of the first Williams contest is not known; before its playing schedule was standardized, spring semester Williams Trivia games were sometimes held as early as February and March.

References in popular media

The Lawrence trivia contest has been written about in Playboy, USA Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Chicago Tribune, and most of the newspapers in Wisconsinmarker. The 1984 Trivia Master, John Landis, '84, appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America." Paul Harvey asked a question in the 1978 contest: "Iā€™m Paul Harvey. Now, for five trivia points where is the InternationalArmadillo Confab and Exposition held? Gooooood Day!" The answer was Victoria, Texasmarker.


  1. Weekend of trivia is serious business; Ed Berthiaume, January 24, 2008; The Post Crescent, Retrieved January 27, 2008
  2. LU trivia competition spans generations; January 28, 2008; The Post Crescent, Retrieved January 27, 2008
  3. Question #141, 2009 Great Midwest Trivia Contest question
  4. [1]; Contesting Trivia; Playboy magazine reprint (page 28); Retrieved January 27, 2008

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