SAN ANTONIO – The Battle of Flowers Association Oratorical Contest is open for applicants. It’s the oldest, consecutively running college-level forensics competition in the state of Texas.
The deadline for entries is Monday, Nov. 2 at 11:59 p.m. A 500 word abstract of the proposed speech is due along with the entry form. Scholarship prizes are awarded to top finalists and winning orators.
For the first time in the 95-year history of the Battle of Flowers Oratorical Contest for college students, the contestants will not deliver their speeches in person.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions placed on students' travel and with the organization’s protocol for safely gathering established, the 2021 Oratorical Contest will take place on Friday, February 26 at the Witte Museum. The first prize is a very substantial prize of $5,000.
Who is eligible to submit an entry?
All graduate and undergraduate students attending a Texas college or university are eligible to compete. Contestants are selected from a pool of applicants, must write an original 10 to 12-minute oration and commit it to memory for delivery to the judges and audience on contest day.
Judging is based on both the content and delivery of the speech which must provide historically accurate information supported by scholarly research.
What are the prizes?
The top five (5) student finalists receive the following monetary scholarship awards:
- First place: $5,000
- Second place: $2,500
- Third place: $1,500
- Fourth place: $1,000
- Fifth place: $750
There is also a prize for the department of the academic advisor of the first, second and third place winners also receive substantial awards of $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000 respectively.
What is the speech topic?
The topic, “EXTRA! EXTRA! Texas Journalists Making History” is rich with the legacy of journalism. Students may choose a Texas journalist, group of journalists, publication or production and discover who they were and share how their work either told an important part of the Texas story, contributed to history or influenced change from a perspective that inspires the student.
“This is a topic that has never been done for our contest before and I think has appeal to our contestants' age group and to the audience,” said Helen Eversberg, vice president and oratorical chair for Battle of Flowers. “Newspapers and news stories contain so much information about events and the culture. Texas journalists and broadcasters who have gathered the facts and reported the news have created a significant source for historians in later times who will apply the lens of analysis to answer the why’s and how’s of our Texas history.”
How do applicants make their speech?
All contestants will make their speeches via ZOOM or a similar platform to an audience and judges who will be safely seated at the Witte auditorium. This past spring, many forensics competitions were held virtually, including a national forensics competition with some 3,000 students, due to the pandemic.
“We were determined to carry on our ninety-five-year tradition. And we are fortunate to have the technology available to make it happen,” said Eversberg.
The virtual competition will allow students to still compete, explains the Battle of Flowers and it will possibly give more students the opportunity to participate since the orators do not have to travel to San Antonio this year, but may remain at their college or university.
Even though they are virtually giving their address, they will still be competing in front of a live audience that will be assembled at the Witte. The students will also see the audience via internet connection.
The contest seeks to encourage young people’s interest in the history and traditions of Texas.
For more information on the topic description and contest rules, click here.
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