What is the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair?

The Heart of Texas Regional History Fair (HOTRHF), in association with Texas History Day (THD) and National History Day (NHD), is an exciting way for students to study history and learn about issues, ideas, people, and events. Students are encouraged to choose any topic in local, national, or world history and investigate its historical significance and relationship to the theme by conducting extensive primary and secondary research. After analyzing and interpreting their information, students present their findings in papers, exhibits, performances, documentaries, or web sites that are evaluated by historians and educators. Students will acquire useful historic knowledge as well as develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will help them now and in the future. At the competition, students will have the opportunity to meet students from other schools, exchange ideas, and demonstrate the results of their work.  Their success in researching and producing a HOTRHF entry can lead to the state and national contest.

Who is eligible to participate?

Any student in grades 5-12 who attends a public, private, charter, parochial, military, or home school within the following 14 counties is eligible to enter the HOTRHF:

Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Lampasas, Limestone, McLennan, Milam, Mills, Navarro, and Robertson.

HOTRHF encourages a local history fair prior to entering the regional fair. This local fair can take place in classroom time or be a separate planned event in the school or with other schools (it is the teacher's choice). Please contact the HOTRHF office if your student is not attending a regional school, or if your student's regional school is not competing at HOTRHF, for qualification rules.

Who hosts and administers HOTRHF?

The Texas Collection, a special collections library on the Baylor University campus, provides administrative support for the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair.

When and where is the history fair held?

The HOTRHF is a two-day event in February on the Baylor University campus in Waco, Texas. Texas History Day is held in May at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. National History Day is held in June at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.

What are the divisions?

HOTRHF has three divisions based on school grade:

  • Fifth Grade Division: Grade 5 (exhibits only, individual or group)
  • Junior Division: Grades 6 - 8
  • Senior Division: Grades 9 - 12

Entries in each division are judged separately at all levels of competition. Texas History Day (THD) and National History Day (NHD) do not sponsor fifth grade participation.

What are the contest categories?

Students may enter one of five categories: exhibit, historical paper, performance, documentary, and website. All categories except the historical paper may be entered as either an individual or a group (2-5 members).

category choice by grade

How big is the history fair?

HOTRHF is one of the largest regional fairs in the state, with an average of over 450 participants per year. We have gained recognition throughout our 14-county region as a highly effective educational vehicle to encourage research, writing, and critical thinking skills, web design, drama production, and teamwork for junior and senior high school students.

Can students advance past the regional level?

Yes. The first and second place contestants from the HOTRHF advance to Texas History Day in late April/early May. At THD, students compete against winners from the 23 other regions around the state. Winners from THD can advance to National History Day in June.

Does HOTRHF ever have students who advance to National History Day?

The HOTRHF has sent students to National competition starting in 1989.  HOTRHF has been represented by at least one project every year at National History Day since 1998. HOTRHF 2016 was represented at National History Day by four students (three entries). One student won 1st place in junior individual performance--another entry won 6th place in junior group performance.

What sort of awards do National winners receive?

First place at National History Day wins a gold medal and a cash award of $1000. Second place wins a silver medal and a $500 cash award. Third place wins a bronze medal and a $250 cash award. Special Award organizations also recognize students. Special Awards may range from a new laptop computer to a trip to Europe for two to various other monetary and material awards from over thirty organizations.

Are there any other benefits from students and teachers participating in the history fair?

Local media not only cover the HOTRHF annually, but they often follow up on students in their area after the event. Special Award organizations often invite students to present winning projects to their members, and they may further reward the student with additional monetary or material awards. Students who advance to the Texas History Day competition, along with their teachers, are recognized by area politicians and school boards at public meetings or ceremonies. HOTRHF students advancing to National History Day, along with their teachers and their school administrators, are recognized by the Texas State Board of Education and various politicians at public meetings or ceremonies.

How do I get started?

Begin by deciding which category you would like to enter a project in. Next, decide if you want to do an individual or group project. Then click here for more guidance.

How do I, the student, enter a project in the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair (HOTRHF)?

If you are interested in entering a project in the HOTRHF, and do not know whether your school participates in the HOTRHF, please ask your History or Social Studies teachers in your school if they help their students to enter.

In case your teachers do not already know about the HOTRHF, but are interested in helping you by becoming your sponsor, please give them our web site. All the information they need is on the web site, or they can call our office at (254) 710-3783.

Once you have a sponsor, you will have to complete your project before our registration deadline. You should also have it reviewed by several other adults or students who can give you tips on how to make it better. If your school participates in the HOTRHF, you will have to win one of your category top three places in your local school fair to advance to the regional fair.

If your teachers are not interested in sponsoring you. then we suggest you try the following steps before contacting our office:

  • Ask your school counselor if they would be your sponsor.
  • Ask other school administrators if they would be your sponsor or find you a sponsor.
  • If you are now in a high school that does not participate, but a middle school in your district does, ask the middle school teacher if he/she would be your sponsor. You would still be representing your high school, but the middle school teacher would act on your behalf. If you cannot find a sponsor in your school ISD, please contact our office and we will help you find a sponsor.

NOTE: You cannot enter the HOTRHF as an individual student with a sponsor outside of your school when your school is already participating in the HOTRHF. Schools are limited to the number of entries that are allowed to be submitted in each category from each division.

What if I am the only person from my school interested in entering the HOTRHF? How do I have a local fair that meets the HOTRHF requirements?

A local level fair is strongly encouraged not only by the HOTRHF, but by Texas History Day and National History Day also. A local level fair can consist of showing your project to your peers, other teachers or other adults who can give you tips on how to make your project better. They should have a copy of the rules for your category and a sample judge sheet (available on our Web site). This also gives you a chance to become accustomed to other people viewing your project and making comments about it. At the HOTRHF not only will the judges be viewing your project, but the public will also. This can be intimidating to the first-time competitor. Changes to enhance your project are allowed between all levels of competition as you advance.

What is a Sponsor?

A sponsor acts on behalf of the student for all coordination with the HOTRHF, THD and NHD. The sponsor opens a registration home page and enters the students basic information. The sponsor collects and pays all student fees to HOTRHF. They receive all fair information and make sure it is passed to the student. The sponsor follows up to make sure the student attends the history fair when they are scheduled to set up their project and be judged. The sponsor is usually a teacher, but can be another if the need arises contact the HOTRHF office if there are questions regarding sponsors.