Elise Wennberg—Staff Writer
An indistinct chatter filled the room as eight teams sat ready to fight for the first-place prize. The smell of flavored drinks and flatbread pizza entered the space. An all-around joyous atmosphere filled the air and brought life to Sidebar.
Vaughn Donahue, instructor of graphic design at Dordt University, shouted the first question, asking teams to identify a quote from a movie. The teams put their heads together and discussed their answers. While cheers were heard from teams who answered correctly, and others groaned in failure. Some sat with an indifferent look on their face, possibly just trying to hide their disappointment.
“Jake [Miller] asked me if I would do [trivia] for Halloween, so I said, ‘Sure,’” Donahue said. “We had no idea if we were only going to have a couple teams or more. Eight was a pretty good turnout.”
The team names from the event included: Don’t Take Candy from Strangers, Chaotic Neutral, Stardew O’Malley, The Out of Towners, the BJ Haans, It’s all Gouda, Quarter-Life Crisis, and No.
“I haven’t done trivia in two years,” Donahue said. “This is going to be general knowledge trivia, so more on the pop culture side. I used to do more academic trivia, but then people complained. And no cheating; we’ve had one team cheat before…and they were never allowed back.”
These trivia nights are for everyone. They are not connected to Dordt University, but are instead advertised as a community event for locals to have fun and share drinks with one another. Donahue previously hosted trivia at Town Square Coffehouse for several years, but has not since the pandemic began. He arranges questions for trivia nights himself.
“My rule of thumb is, if I think I could answer this, if I was attending the same trivia night, then it makes for a good question,” Donahue said. “But I try not to make it just stuff that I know. I have to research this stuff and put it together, but I try to keep it in the area that I think I would know.”
As the game went on, some competitors relished in their high scores, and others despaired their incorrect answers. The points added up and the excitement turned louder as cartoon villains, songs, movie quotes, and names of the Roman gods were guessed. But ultimately, there could only be one winner: with 163 points, Stardew O’Malley took the metaphorical cake.
“It’s more fun when we have trivia going on for a while because rivalries start to form between teams that come over and over again,” Donahue said.
The categories range from I Hear Dead People, Rebrand (did you know that Google used to be named Backrub? Or even more shocking, Dordt University used to be called Dordt College), Take a Look it’s in a Book, Of Anvils and Pianos, and Don’t Touch That Dial.
The categories consisted of a basic question and answer formula, a How Many Villains Can You Name category, and audio categories where a small portion of audio was played, and contestants needed to guess the pop-culture reference or theme song.
“I like the audio categories, whether it’s the like the TV themes or the songs just because people really get into it, and especially if it’s like you know, nostalgic, kind of thing,” Donahue said.
Sidebar opened over the summer, bringing the tone of a community-first taphouse and cocktail bar to small town Sioux Center, Iowa. Jake Miller, the owner of Sidebar, rents out the space from Laremy De Vries, owner of the Fruited Plain Cafe.
“We had a bunch of soft openings before we ‘officially opened,’ but I would say we opened officially toward the end of July,” Miller said. “Business has been positive, but it was hard to predict what to prepare for; however, having events are a good way to make [Sidebar] more of a destination.”
The soft openings Miller talked about were mainly events to test out the waters of the new bar. Despite this, Sidebar has been keeping community members updated on events, specials, and menu updates through social media.
“I own an LLC, but kind of act like a subsidiary of the Fruited Plain,” Miller said. “So, in that case we [the Fruited Plain and Sidebar] share a beverage licensing. Laremy [De Vries] already having the license allowed us to sell beer and wine immediately, but I needed to get a different class of service [license] to serve other beverages.”
Sidebar did not officially receive their license to serve liquor until the middle of August, and they have been updating their menu to reflect the favorites of people as well as providing more local beers from Iowa.
To keep the bar lively, Miller has commented about trying to host at least two events each month. Whether it be live music, trivia, or supporting professional sports teams to their victory, there is an event for everyone to enjoy.
Sidebar will often host local bands to play at the venue and let them practice in the backroom, if they are respectful of the space. These bands include of The Ruralists, The Clementines, The Aircraft, and others.
“I like being a bar for everybody, but I do I look forward to serving college kids. It’s been a learning experience so far,” Miller said. “We’ve had some crazy nights where it’s hard to keep up with everything going on. With luck, this can be that place where people can find their niche. It’ll be kind of a growing experience for us, and hopefully, it’s something that other people want to be a part of too.”