I’ll Take The Colgate Inn, Alex

 

 

Andrew Wickerham

The Old Stone Jug no longer holds the distinction of having the only Wednesday night waiting line in downtown Hamilton, and the competition is from an unlikely source. Trivia Night at the Colgate Inn might sound a bit more sober, but the energy in the room is equal to even the wildest nights at the Jug.

“It has snowballed to the point where we’ve had to turn people away because of fire code concerns,” Regional Advancement Director Doug Chiarello ’98 said of the trivia bowls, which he organizes with his wife, Kristi ’01.

From 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Trivia Night pits teams of area residents and students against each other in an open-competition game that resembles a cross between Jeopardy! and Trivial Pursuit. Play takes place in four main rounds: a picture round, a bonus round and a set of two Final Questions. As each question is asked, teams wager points and then have the length of one song, played over the speaker system, to deliberate and arrive at an answer. Points are tabulated after each round, and the top three teams at the end of play win gift certificates to the Colgate Inn.

Teams range in size from two to 10 players, although teams of more than six are not eligible to compete for first place. Also, each team is encouraged to name itself, which seems to bring out the creative side of trivia players.

“Leave Lindsay A-Lohan was a great one,” Chiarello said.

Chiarello said that the idea for Trivia Night came to him and his wife while they were on a trip to Boston. A group of Colgate alumni now living in that city took the couple to a trivia bowl at a local pub, where they immediately latched onto the concept.

“We both knew this could be at Colgate,” Chiarello said.

When they returned to Hamilton, the pair set a meeting at the Colgate Inn, which soon agreed to host the event. The Chiarellos organized the music and questions for the first event last February, which drew about 40 people. Trivia Night grew quickly, and by the middle of August, the evening drew 100 people each week, a number that now taxes the Inn’s Green Room.

“People now show up 60 to 90 minutes in advance [to secure a table],” Chiarello said.

Attendees range from students, to faculty, to area residents, to those from slightly farther afield.

“The Hamilton College Admissions team calls itself ‘We Prefer Crest,'” Assistant Dean of Admission Lia Glavin said. Glavin is one of six players representing Colgate’s Office of Admission on “Gary’s Girls,” a team named for Dean of Admission Gary Ross.

The large turnout pleases many in the Colgate community.

“Doug and Kristi are trying to find new and exciting ways to keep young professionals in the area fulfilled in their off-hours, and the most credit goes to them,” Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Greek-Letter Operations Tim Mansfield said. “It’s been a bit wild.”

Mansfield says he floats between teams at the event, but supports the night for other reasons. As Colgate’s representative to the Hamilton Business Association, Mansfield sees Trivia Night as a perfect way to showcase the Inn.

“It generates a great deal of revenue on what might be an otherwise slow night,” Mansfield said.

The success of Trivia Night has Chiarello already looking towards future development. While currently free, the possibility of a charity has been raised, as has the idea of organizing a tournament for serial winners. On a related note, Hamilton College will be organizing its own Trivia Night this fall.

For now, Chiarello offers some simple advice.

“I would say come early,” he said.