The National Speech & Debate Association has selected the Richmond region as the host of its 2026 National Speech & Debate Tournament, an event that is expected to attract 10,000 student contestants and visitors to the area. To be held on June 14-19 in 2026, the national speech contest is one of the largest academic events in the country.
“There is no better fit than partnering with The Richmond Forum’s Speech & Debate Initiative to help usher in the next generation of leaders at the 2026 National Tournament,” said Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the National Speech & Debate Association. “By partnering with The Richmond Forum, we can shape a brighter future for our students, our communities, and our nation while also creating a tremendous educational opportunity for our programs.”
Richmond Region Tourism and The Richmond Forum, whose Speech & Debate Initiative (RFSDI) has helped grow interest and participation in speech and debate competitions, have been working to enhance interest in Richmond as a tournament host for more than three years.
Over the past five years, RFSDI has engaged more than 1,000 students in speech and debate in the Richmond region, growing from nine teams to 28 with 43 coaches. Last year’s regional tournament circuit attracted 750 student contestants.
The event will include 7,000 competitors and will take place in 750 rooms across six schools in the region. Several thousand local volunteers are needed to ensure the National Tournament runs smoothly. Interested community members can sign up to volunteer and stay abreast of developments by clicking here.
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