One might find it odd approaching a restaurant or drinking establishment to hear a group of rowdy patrons suddenly blurt out: “Nicola Tesla!” Or, “Buzz Aldrin!”
Not exactly the refrain of well-known drinking songs.
So what’s going on?
It’s Trivia night, folks.
Trivia games are growing in popularity in Loudoun County, and are already well-established in college towns all over the U.S. It has proven a hot business opportunity for entrepreneurs with smarts and public charisma.
Why? These inherently fun, social events help restaurants and craft breweries put fannies in the seats on traditionally slow nights.
Take 27-year-old Aaron Kilgore for example. Just last year he started his own company, Roaring Lion Entertainment, to provide interactive trivia games to area establishments and their patrons.
As a kid during the Internet Age, whenever Kilgore would learn about a subject he found fascinating, he’d jump online to learn everything he could about it. He also performed in public, as a bassist and lead singer, and felt comfortable in front of crowds.
“I’ve always been a fan of trivia,” Kilgore said. “When I get into something, I try to learn everything about it. When I realized I could answer questions about baseball, music, or history, I knew that had some value. I just didn’t know for what.”
He says he never imagined his domination of trivia games with family and friends could ever turn into a business.
Kilgore, who grew up in Sterling and Round Hill, graduated from Loudoun Valley High School in 2007. He held down several jobs before starting his company. After serving as a U.S. Marine, he worked for moving and construction companies, and was a digital archivist at the Discovery Channel. Although he enjoyed the work, he says none of it ever felt like a “true calling.”
Then, one fortuitous day, a friend asked him to cover a trivia event at a local bar.
Kilgore accepted and immediately felt he’d found his niche—something that aligned with his true skill sets and passions.
“I felt in my element. I like to be publicly engaging, it’s just my personality,” he says.
The event went well and he was asked to do more.
After a month, Kilgore had three establishments asking him to host events. He then decided the time was right to launch his own business. He believed his ideas and skill for trivia would attract like-minded individuals while also satisfying business owners anxious to build a loyal group of customers who’d come back each week to play.
“It snowballed from there,” Kilgore said.
Today, Kilgore is managing trivia events at seven Loudoun County establishments: The Black Olive in Lansdowne; Shoes Cup & Cork and the Green Turtle in Leesburg; Belly Love Brewery, Casa Tequila, Corcoran Brewery in Purcellville; and the Old 690 Brewing Company near Hillsboro.
Just last week he hired his first employee to help manage the inflow of business.
Ronda Powell, co-owner of the Old 690 Brewing Company in Purcellville, affirmed Kilgore’s trivia savvy and public personality.
“We’re only open on weekends, so Friday nights were usually slow for us. We were looking for an event that would attract people in and wanted to do something that would help customers unwind after a long week. Aaron’s trivia games did the trick,” Powell said.
She added her business now consistently pulls in regular, often large crowds, who come in to play as teams.
“He’s clearly found his calling,” she said.
The team element is something Kilgore believes is another promising opportunity for the business.
“Trivia works best when it’s played in teams,” Kilgore said. “Everyone knows something about certain subjects. Some, for example, might be experts in string theory, while others might be more familiar with pop culture. That makes for a great team-building exercise.”
Asked about the challenges of managing a crowd of diverse people playing trivia, he said it takes a lot of on-the-fly adaptation. If there’s a mix of generations, for example, he has to adjust accordingly. If the questions are too hard, or conversely too easy, he has to change his strategy.
Kilgore said this is why he keeps extensive notebooks on every trivia outing. Every night is different, offering a variety of challenges and opportunities, each one making him better at his craft.
If the boisterous laughter, squeals of happiness or groans of despair, and the good-natured jousting between teams a patron hears on any given night is any indication, Kilgore’s got his finger firmly on the pulse of trivia fun and spirited, friendly competition in Loudoun.
Put that useless knowledge to good use at trivia nights throughout Loudoun:
Mondays 7-9 p.m. Kings Court Tavern, Leesburg
Tuesdays 7-9 p.m., MacDowell Brew Kitchen, Leesburg
Tuesdays 7:30 p.m., Ashburn Pub, Ashburn
Tuesdays 8 p.m., World of Beer, Ashburn
Tuesdays 8 p.m., Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm, Ashburn
Tuesdays 8-10 p.m., Casa Tequila Bar & Grill, Purcellville
Tuesdays 8-10:30 p.m., Glory Days, Sterling
Wednesdays 7-9 p.m., The Greene Turtle, Sterling
Wednesdays 7-9 p.m., Shoes Cup & Cork, Leesburg
Wednesdays 7:30 p.m. King Pinz Bowling, Leesburg
Wednesdays 8 p.m. O’Faolain’s, Sterling
First and third Thursdays 7:30-9:30 p.m. Belly Love Brewery, Purcellville
Second and fourth Thursdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Corcoran Brewing Company, Purcellville
Fridays 6:30-8:30 p.m. Old 690 Brewing Company, Hillsboro
This is a sampling of trivia nights held throughout Loudoun. Call ahead, as times are subject to change. Follow Aaron Kilgore’s weekly schedule of trivia events at area locations at roaringlionentertainment.com.