Laura Dean Bennett
If it’s Thursday, it’s time to loosen up your attitude and get ready for some serious fun – because Thursday night is Trivia Night at Locust Hill.
Locust Hill B&B has been in business since 2000, and it opened its restaurant four years ago this month.
The trivia hosts are the owners of Locust Hill, Dave and Paula Zorn.
It was Paula’s idea to add a Trivia three years ago, and since then, Locust Hill has been the place to be on Thursday nights, especially if you’re a competitive, game playing fanatic.
“I thought it would be a way of inviting people out to have some fun,” Paula said.
“After all, there’s not a whole lot of excitement in town on a typical Thursday night. It’s our favorite night of the week. It’s so nice to have the place full of people laughing and having a good time.”
The master of ceremonies, the Torquemada of Trivia, the man with all the pesky questions, is Chuck Cornell.
“A lot of people think we’re playing Trivial Pursuit,” Chuck said. “But it’s nothing like that. There are probably a lot of people in town who don’t come because they’re afraid they ‘don’t know anything, but, heck, everybody knows something!”
And you don’t realize how much you know until you’re in the middle of a game and all of a sudden, it’s you, and only you, at your table who has the answer!
Cornell is the second host of trivia. Sherman Taylor was the first, but he needed more time to work on his master’s degree, so Dave and Paula asked Cornell to fill in, and it’s been Chuck ever since.
“The competition is usually hot and heavy,” Cornell said. “And we like it that way.”
It’s anything but a boring evening and anything but a typical trivial pursuit style of game.
A lot of research and thought goes into each week’s lineup.
The questions are always fresh and fascinating.
“I try not to ask what I think are typical trivia questions – there are no true or false or multiple choice questions,” the trivia host said. “It’s important to keep it challenging and interesting.”
Cornell hasn’t always been the dean of dastardly questions.
He ran the campgrounds at Watoga State Park for about eight years.
When he’s not researching trivia questions, he’s doing the mowing at Barnett’s Cabins at Mill Point. It’s work that he enjoys, and he proudly shows off his farmer’s tan.
“I know people don’t want to be out too late,” he said. “I try to start at about 6:15 and have it wrapped up by 8 or 8:30.”
There are many people who would probably never have thought of themselves as trivia mavens who are now passionate converts.
Each trivia night contains 20 questions plus five music questions at the end of the game.
Each correct answer is worth one point.
Cornell is there for trivia night 51 weeks a year. That’s a lot of questions – 1,020 to be exact – that he has researched.
It takes eight hours to prepare the questions for each week.
“I get a lot of ideas while I’m reading or watching TV,” Cornell said. “I ask about people, places and things and of course, there’s the final category every week – music.
“We play a short part of a song and, for three points, ask the players to identify the song title, the artist and the decade it was released.
“If they know the exact year the song was released, they can earn an extra point.”
The dreaded music category can make or break a winning streak.
This game can really teach one the meaning of hubris.
Girls’ Night Out has the honor of being the very first trivia team.
They started out in Hillsboro years ago at the Pretty Penny when that venue had a trivia night.
The team consists of Andrea Biondi, owner of the Old Clark Inn, Jean Cornell, Steve and Cynthia Olsen.
The teams tease each other and throw shade, and they often grouse and threaten the host. But it’s all in good fun.
Rusty Arthur and his wife, Cheryl, from Hurricane have what they laughingly call a “micro farm” for vacationing here in Pocahontas County.
The Arthurs were welcomed by Bill Jordan and Doug Honnor to join their “Two Top team, making it the Four Top Team.
“We like to fish and kayak, and we come to play trivia every time we’re in town,” he added.
That’s the thing about this trivia game.
You just come as you are.
You can come alone, or as a couple, play your own game or hook up with an existing team, or bring a gaggle of friends and form your own team.
Oak Forest consists of, among others, Patty Felton, Rachel Felton, Regina Hall, Steve Hall, Shannon McClure, Jenny Henning and Charles Meyer.
“We’ve been coming to trivia off and on for a couple years now, Meyer said. “We are a group of forest service employees, friends and family and college friends.
“We like trivia because it’s a fun way to go out and do something. We don’t always have to win to have fun, but it’s nice once in a while.”
Talk about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat – there’s nothing like a night out with friends and neighbors, trying to grind your opponents into the dust on the way to a trivial victory, in the most sportsmanlike manner, of course.
If you’ve been there, you know.
The competition can get a little heated sometimes, although no actual blood has ever been spilled – yet.
After all, it’s not like there’s nothing at stake – the winning team gets $25 off their next week’s supper tab.
There are usually five or six teams competing – sometimes as many as eight – with names like Girls’ Night Out, Oak Forest, Milk Maids, Almost Local, Park Ratz and Porch Rats.
The competition is fierce. There’s good natured taunting, teasing and trash talking before and during the game.
But as soon as a winner is declared, the room erupts in applause and there are no hard feelings among the competitors.
For those not familiar with Cornell’s query style, here’s a question he gave me to share with our readers.
“It was October 26, 1881, and the headline would have read something like:
‘Virgil, Morgan, Wyatt and Doc did ‘okay’ today. Jon Clum was the publisher of what was, at the time, the oldest continuously published newspaper in Arizona. What was its name?
Answer: The Tombstone Epitaph.
There’s no doubt about it, you will learn a lot every time you go to trivia.
Rest assured, you don’t need to know all of the answers to have a good time at Locust Hill trivia, you just need to talk a good game.
Locust Hill is located on Rt. 39 in Marlinton. They feature a pub style menu for dining on Thursday evenings. Come at 5 p.m. to get your supper ordered. Trivia starts at 6:15. Call 304-799-5471 or visit them on the web at locusthillwv.com
Coming soon: Locust Hill Trivia host Cornell will soon be challenging our readers with a weekly trivia query. It will help sharpen your brain cells and renew your competitive spirit.
Laura Dean Bennett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org