Quiz Bowl draws history buffs of all ages

Wayne Staton wins annual trivia contest
May. 14, 2014 @ 05:30 PM

North Carolina history buffs gathered at the First Presbyterian Church on Tuesday to test their wits against one another in the hopes of winning Sanford’s fourth annual North Carolina History Quiz Bowl.

While all 15 competitors brought their A game, Wayne Staton, who had been the first runner-up last year, came away with the title.

“I got lucky,” Staton said. “They just asked the questions that I knew.”

Staton won on a true-or-false question, a format new to the competition this year, about North Carolina’s first governor, Richard Caswell, who was elected in 1776.

David Spivey, a contestant for the past four years and the first runner-up this year, said he enjoys getting together with fellow history lovers and sharing his knowledge. Every year, he comes close, and next year, he aspires to win first place.

“I like getting like-minded people together who like history,” Spivey said. “I think it’s important to learn about North Carolina history and United States history. If you don’t know your history, you’re condemned to repeat it.”

Last year’s winner, Dr. Kelly Faulk, did not perform as well as he had hoped this year, saying that the multiple choice, true-or-false and fill-in-the-blank questions were among the hardest asked.

“A whole bunch of us went out in the same round,” he said. “It was still fun though. I think it’s just a good thing to have as a community event. It’s different, you know? It’s kind of like the spelling bee. It’s not a sporting event. It’s not your typical community event. It brings in a different audience.”

Speaking about the competition on the whole, Jim Greathouse, a historian at the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum, said, “Overall, it went very, very well.”

“We had a great turnout,” added Greathouse, who also moderated the quiz bowl. “I was impressed by some of the younger contestants. They really knew their stuff.”

Leisa Greathouse, curator of education at the Museum of the Cape Fear in Fayetteville, played a big role in bringing the quiz bowl to Sanford. The Museum of the Cape Fear has hosted a Civil War Quiz Bowl for the past 13 years.

“We North Carolinians love our history,” she said. “We are always talking about how we are first in this or best in that. [The quiz bowl] is a way of giving people a way to apply that love of history — to say, ‘Not only do I know it, but I’m going to show you I know it.’”

Lee County Library Director Michael Matochik traveled to Fayetteville for the quiz bowl for years and decided Sanford should have one as well. After Matochik approached them, the Greathouses agreed to help Sanford put on its own competition.

Matochik said, “We owe a lot to Jim and Leisa — the kindness of their hearts, their devotion to history. The quiz bowl is an example of the Lee County Library and the museums from Fayetteville working together.”

He continued, “But for me, the best of the best things this year was that we had a number of high school students up there on stage. It’s open to everybody, and this is the first time we sort of got everybody.”

Leisa Greathouse echoed the sentiment, saying that she wants to encourage younger people to participate. She said she would also like to see a larger audience; about 50 people were in the McIver Fellowship Hall for the quiz bowl, including contestants.

Matochik and Faulk cited conflicting events like the Board of Education meeting that stopped some people from coming, though both were impressed with the number of participants on the stage.

“The best thing about it was the participation,” Faulk said. “We had some high school kids come out. It was the first year we’ve had female contestants. In the future, maybe they can pick a different night when there is less to compete with.”

Matochik said he looks forward to watching the quiz bowl grow as time goes on. Next year, he plans to have an award for the youngest contestant to garner more interest from high schoolers.

“It’s important for us to remember that we are always part of our past,” Matochik said. “It helps shape who we are in the present and what we can take into the future. The past gives us anchors to build on, to correct upon. It adds to the store of human knowledge.”