[Courtesy of Sam Van Wetter]

“Pub Trivia never went away,” said Sam Van Wetter, a new pub trivia host this year and former trivia player. “It’s an omnipresent force in our lives that we carry inside of our hearts.”

Van Wetter—half joking, half serious—spoke glowingly of trivia as a triumph of curiosity, a pride in one’s knowledge base.

“Trivia is a state of mind more than it is an actual event on any day of the week,” he said.

To the delight of like-minded Moabites, Pub Trivia will return for in-person trivia nights this winter. The first trivia night is on Tuesday, Dec. 7, and will run every first and third Tuesday in January and February at Woody’s Tavern.

Each trivia night will have a theme. Van Wetter said the Dec. 7 event will have an “ugly sweater” theme and encouraged trivia-goers to wear their holiday tackiest.

Six-person teams are encouraged but you don’t have to have a group beforehand—show up to the bar and see who you can team up with. For each category, teams will have a certain amount of time to write down an answer before the next question is asked. There’s no cheating allowed, no looking up the answer on your phone or calling an outside friend. The team that has the highest number of correct answers will win, the team that has the least will lose, but at Pub Trivia, there are still prizes for both.

There will be five hosts for this year’s events: Van Wetter, Bradia Holmes, Bobby Hollahan, Zoe Hudson and Robin Reibold. Each host has different topic expertises, Van Wetter said, which “allows us to shine, and when we shine, everyone else shines.”

“It’s a really special moment when someone is there in the pub trivia hall and they hear a question and it’s like it was written just for them,” Van Wetter said. “Sometimes that source material really lines up with people in a way that is both representative and evocative.”

The event is entering its fourth year; last year, the event moved to the airways of KZMU Radio due to the COVID-19 pandemic and still maintained its popularity.

“It’s cool that it’s taken off,” said Bradia Holmes, one of the original trivia hosts. “When we started, we were only planning on doing one to see how it was received, and then everyone loved it and wanted another one. So then we kept doing it.”

Pretty much anything can be made into a trivia question, Holmes said. She gets her ideas from conversations, crowd suggestions, and local knowledge—the hosts love doing local rounds, with questions about regional landmarks or Moab gossip.

They’ll also do “mystery rounds,” where all the answers are connected, but the questions most definitely aren’t. Other common categories include pop culture, science and nature, current events, history and geography, and literature.

“There’s such a variety of people and knowledge in Moab,” Holmes said—from people who love outdoor recreation like climbing and canyoneering, to people who work in government or tourism, and there are a plethora of people in Moab with niche interests. “We always make sure we hit a variety of categories.”

Holmes said she loves meeting new people at trivia since the event has such a far reach, and calls to a huge variety of people. Plus, she said, Moab’s tourism season slows down in the winter, giving locals a chance to connect with one another at community events like this one.

She’s expecting 80 to 100 people to attend the first trivia night, which will fill up the majority of Woody’s. Masks aren’t required, but are encouraged, Van Wetter said.

Surprises abound, Van Wetter said. Better start studying.

The next Pub Trivia will be on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Woody’s Tavern (221 S. Main St., Moab). If you miss this one, the next trivia night will be on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at the same time and place. The event is free.