By Ruth Odom
Franklin County Voter Services Co-chair

A Civics Trivia Night can be a fun, community-building event that raises civics awareness and encourages engagement in the political process in a friendly competitive setting. The League of Women Voters of Franklin County held its first Trivia Night last October, and plans to make this an annual event.

We didn’t have pre-registration, but advertised with the local paper and radio station and posted leaflets, so groups of friends, mostly adults, came as teams, ranging from two or three people up to eight. We had 14 or 15 teams.

There were five themed rounds with six questions in each round, and one “bonus” question. Each correct answer for the first six questions was awarded one point. The bonus question could be given anywhere from 0-5 points, depending upon how confident teams were on their answers. Correct answers added that number of points to the score, incorrect answers resulted in that amount being subtracted. Answer sheets with the team names were collected and scored at the end of each round by League members assigned to each couple of tables.

One of our members was the judge, looking official in an old graduation robe. She kept a running tally of each team’s scores and made the final decision on any questionable answers. The top three teams were announced by the Quizmasters before the start of each new round.

Questions covered federal, state, and local government, current affairs and American history. In addition, there was a “table game” with questions of random cultural trivia, such as “What is the official donut of Massachusetts?” (A: Boston Cream) which added points to the final score. We needed to ask about three questions to break ties, and felt those questions should be a bit harder than the game questions. Many of the questions came from the naturalization test on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Website. Additional questions can be found online.

Seven questions per round doesn’t sound like many, but it is important to keep this a friendly, social event and give people enough time to answer the questions, yet keep the pace moving along. This event ran about 2 ½ hours. The time between rounds was used to give the answers, change out the snacks, tally the scores for each team, and allow people to get drinks, buy raffle tickets and visit the raffle table.

Two “celebrity” Quizmasters were invited as hosts, State Representative Paul Mark, and Greenfield Town Councilor-at- Large Rudy Renaud. They read the questions and announced leading teams after each round.

Cash prizes were awarded to the top three winners, tickets sold for a gift basket raffle, and a different complimentary snack—chips, popcorn, miniature candy bars–was provided for each round, really a crowd pleaser!

This kind of event takes a lot of planning, but is fun and rewarding for all involved! For more information, contact Ruth Odom.