A guide to living local in New Hampshire

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Trivia Nights are an Engaging Answer
to Winter Blues

Story and photos by Stacy Milbouer / Fiddlehead Contributing Editor

Winter blues are no trivial matter, but many afflicted with this solstice angst turn to trivia to get them out of the house and out of the doldrums.

With its long winters, New Hampshire has dozens of venues that host trivia nights, which serve the dual purpose of providing a sense of community and fun as well as generating business in restaurants and bars on slower, weekday evenings.

Rachel Dolan is a bartender and server at Halligan Tavern in Derry where trivia night is Tuesday from 8 to 10 p.m.

“We’ve been doing trivia here for a long time now,” she said. “It’s especially popular in the winter. The whole restaurant can fill up. It can get super-competitive. I guess that what’s makes it fun.”

There are usually two types of trivia presenters. Some work for chains like Stump! Trivia Quiz, which started in New England 20 years ago and currently conducts 400 trivia nights a week throughout the region, including venues in New Hampshire. They hire and train hosts to run trivia nights and equip them with questions and answers.

There are also independent trivia presenters like Bill Seney and Cody Booth who have hosted “Trivia Nights with Bill and Cody” for the past two years. While both work on trivia questions, Seney serves as the team’s emcee while Booth crafts the music playlist for the night, tallies scores and creates the ever-challenging video and audio questions of the week.

By day, Booth is a middle school science teacher in Salem. Seney and his wife, Alli, run the Manchvegas Brew Bus, which gives tours of the craft beer breweries in the greater Manchester area.

The team does three trivia nights a week — Wednesdays at Backyard Brewery in Manchester, Tuesdays at the Tap House Grille in Hooksett and Mondays at the Flight Center in downtown Nashua — all starting at 7 p.m. That’s at least an hour earlier than most trivia nights.

“I’m a teacher,” said Booth. “I get up at 4:45 every day. We run like a German-made machine. Right on time. We start at 7 and we are done by 9, no matter what.”

On a recent, night, the Flight Center wasn’t all that crowded at dusk, but by 7 the trivia crowd rolled in and teams took up most of the tables.

It happens every Monday, said Jake, a waiter and a trivia fan.

“We’re the busiest on Main Street when it comes to trivia,” he said. “It can get very competitive.”

Booth said the Nashua crowd is especially devoted.

“They’re good. They’re really good,” he said. “This group typically does the best of all.”

It’s easy to join any trivia night. Just go to a venue with a friend or two or three or four and give yourself a team name. Then when questions are asked you confer and come up with one answer for the team in the limited amount of time given.

Each correct answer earns points. At the end the scores are totaled, and the winning team receives bragging rights and in some trivia venues trophies and prizes.

Cody and Bill tell the teams to stay off their cell phones because even if they’re not cheating, “it could look like you’re cheating.”

One team, named Beer Pretzel, after their favorite Flight Center appetizer, has three core members who are real devotees. That includes Phil Curé, 65, who works in furniture sales; high school English teacher, Sarah Thompson, 30; and her fiancé, Dave Grant, 32, an IT specialist. They’ve won more of their share of trivia nights.

Curé loves a good obscure question, but he also comes as a stenographer of sorts.

“Each week I write down the questions and answers and bring them to my sister and brother-in-law’s house,” he explained. “They like trivia, but they don’t go to trivia nights.”

Bill and Cody always have seven rounds of questions, including three of general knowledge, pop culture/current events and the lightning round, when a team has 60 seconds to write down as many correct answers to a single question as possible – on this particular night name as many New Hampshire ski areas as possible — plus a visual round and an audio round. Once teams had to name Beatles songs that were played backward.

At the end of this night, a team called the Beavers won the evening, but no one held a grudge. They were applauded loudly by their formal rivals.


Trivia Nights

Below is just a selection of the dozens of trivia nights throughout the state

All times listed are PM. Check the venue's website for up-to-date times and information
The 99, Nashua & Londonderry
Thursdays at 7:30
Area 23, Concord
Tuesdays at 7
British Beer Co., Manchester
Tuesdays at 8:30
The Farm Bar and Grille
Dover: Tuesdays at 8
Manchester: Wednesdays at 8:30
Flight Center, Nashua
Mondays at 7
Fody's Tavern, Nashua
Wednesdays at 8
Halligan Tavern, Derry
Tuesdays at 8
Jade Dragon Restaurant, Merrimack
Thursdays at 8:15
J's Tavern Under the Bridge, Milford
Wednesdays at 7
Lazy Lion, Deerfield
Mondays at 7
Logan's Run, Hampton
Thursdays at 7
Patrick's Pub & Eatery, Gilford
Mondays at 7
The Peddler's Daughter, Nashua
Tuesdays at 8
Portsmouth Gas Light, Portsmouth
Thursdays at 8:30
Seadog Brewery, Exeter
Tuesdays at 7
The Shaskeen Pub and Restaurant, Manchester
Mondays at 7:30
The Stone Church, Newmarket
Wednesdays at 7
Thirsty Moose Taphouse, Portsmouth
Wednesdays at 8